Public Eye

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 07 September, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 07 September, 2011, 12:00am
 

Long Hair gets in a tangle

How quickly the target changed. Just last week, everyone was bashing Police Commissioner Andy Tsang Wai-hung for using totalitarian-style tactics to squash protests during the visit by Vice-Premier Li Keqiang. Now, people are bashing legislator 'Long Hair' Leung Kwok-hung for leading a mob to silence opposing views in the name of democracy. Leung was on the right side of public opinion when he joined others in condemning the police chief for suppressing free expression. Then he stupidly surrendered the moral high ground by doing the same thing, gate-crashing a seminar featuring government officials. Not only did he soil the name of democracy, he invited a comparison between his brainless act and the heavy-handed actions of the police chief. His mob's violent behaviour provided an excuse for the authorities to justify totalitarian-style policing. Leung is remorseless. He knows he'll always be re-elected by his core supporters. Condemn Leung. But we need also to ask why he remains so popular among young people. The answer is staring us in the face. Today's young people feel they have been let down by an unfair society but the ruling class doesn't care. They're using Leung's radical actions to make the ruling class listen to them.

Collective punishment

Benjamin Tsang Chiu-fo is the chairman of the Police Inspectors Association. What he said last week should worry us all - treat Police Commissioner Andy Tsang with respect or you'll be sorry. Those were not his exact words, but they accurately reflect his message. Tsang supports the heavy-handed tactics of his boss in suppressing protesters. Why? Because legislator Wong Yuk-man did not treat his boss with respect. Wong threw a June 4 T-shirt at Tsang. 'It was not only an insult to Tsang, it was an insult to the whole police force,' said Benjamin Tsang. So, in effect, he is saying the police are out for revenge. And they are getting it by punishing all protesters. Collective punishment. It's the new face of our police force.

What would Clinton say?

Over and over again our leaders have told us the heavy-handed policing during Li Keqiang's visit was nothing unusual. Over and over again they've told us the same stifling security applied when US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton visited. Public Eye will say this just once: Bull-poop. Undercover police in black suits roughed up a man in a June 4 T-shirt during Li's visit. Clinton would have been outraged if the police had done the same to a man wearing a 'Down with America' T-shirt. The police manhandled three students when Li gave a speech at the University of Hong Kong. Clinton would have been embarrassed if they had done it to anti-American protesters. She would have wanted protection only from genuine threats, not from the threat of free expression.

Tuesday is protest day

Hongkongers have a right to free expression - but only on certain days determined by our leaders. Speak your mind on the wrong day and you risk those men in black suits coming after you. So get out your diaries and mark down the taboo days. If you want to protest outside the chief executive's new Tamar office you can do it only on Tuesday mornings. The police will herd you into a 24 square metre security zone. And you can protest outside the new Tamar headquarters on holidays. This harbour-front complex is named The Door. Its design aims to make the statement that the government's door is always open. But apparently, only on holidays when the bureaucrats are away. If you want to protest while they're at work you must do it on a walkway far away where they can't see or hear you. Like Li Keqiang, they need to be protected from free expression too.

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