• Sat
  • Jul 12, 2014
  • Updated: 2:44am
Public Eye
PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 19 June, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 19 June, 2013, 5:14am

Whistle-blower plays two tunes


Michael Chugani is a Hong Kong-born American citizen who has worked for many years as a journalist in Hong Kong, the USA and London. Aside from being a South China Morning Post columnist he also hosts ATV’s Newsline show, a radio show and writes for two Chinese-language publications. He has published a number of books on politics which contain English and Chinese versions.

Whatever happened to America the Beautiful? It seems like it's morphed into America the Hypocrite. Whistle-blower Edward Snowden's jaw-dropping revelations of massive cyber-spying by the US have ushered in the age of Bash America. It's open season, so get your rifles ready. The under-belly is exposed. It's ugly, it's soft and it's an easy target. But most Americans are not nearly as aghast as Hongkongers. Last Saturday's protest at the US consulate here drew hundreds. A rally outside the US Congress to proclaim Snowden a hero attracted one protester and a few journalists. When libertarian senator Rand Paul proposed legislation to curb US spying, fellow lawmakers shunned his initiative. To many in the outside world, Snowden is a hero. To many of his fellow Americans, he is a traitor. So which one is he? It all depends on what kind of an America you want. Do you want a Big-Brother-is-watching America that pries into your privacy by cyber-snooping globally to foil terrorist attacks? Or do you want an America that gives the terrorists an edge by protecting your privacy? Polls show most Americans prefer security over privacy. That is not hard to understand. They have yet to shake off the trauma of September 11. The recent Boston Marathon terror attack didn't help. One of the three killed was a mainlander. It could have been your brother, sister, mother or father. If the cyber-snooping had prevented the attack, would the invasion of your privacy have been worth the price? Think of the mass snooping as a vacuum cleaner that sucks up everything. The Obama administration insists of the millions of e-mails and phone calls sucked up, only about 300 were examined with court approval and that foiled many terrorist attacks. Does that make America a Big Brother that needs to be stopped or a necessary world policeman? Public Eye is stumped.


DAB dabbles in human rights

It was heart-warming to see eight members of the pro-establishment DAB party march to the US consulate in the rain last week in support of whistle-blower Edward Snowden. This is not a party known for defending the people's right to know. Its modus operandi is toeing the government line. It recently voted against a full Legco investigation into the lavish spending by former ICAC boss Timothy Tong Hin-ming. But now it wants the US to give a full account of its hacking into Hong Kong computers. Has the tiger changed its stripes? We'll know if we witness the DAB marching up to the central government's liaison office demanding a full account of the fate of mainland political dissidents in the same way it stood up for Snowden, also a political dissident. Public Eye is not holding its breath.


What do we want: freedom or free food?

Here's Public Eye's message to the organisers of the annual July 1 protest march: "Grow up." They are crying foul that pro-government forces plan to counter the march with carnivals and half-price offers in shops and restaurants. Do they really need us to tell them that winning the hearts and minds of the people is a dirty business? The pro-establishment forces should persuade restaurants to not charge at all. It will be a referendum on whether Hongkongers prefer freedom or free food.




Related topics

For unlimited access to:

SCMP.com SCMP Tablet Edition SCMP Mobile Edition 10-year news archive



This article is now closed to comments

The US behavior that Ed Snowden revealed and the US reaction to his revelations should be seen in their political larger context, which Snowden himself made very clear in his own statements. First of all, an absolutely powerful and all-knowing US government will certainly cut down terrorist attacks. But at what cost? How many terrorist attacks took place in Saddam Hussein's Iraq? How many took place after he was deposed? Democracy has its costs. The US legal system should not allow that kind of power in the hands of any part of government. It chills freedom of expression (1st amendment of US Constitution) and violates privacy (4th amendment). When efforts are made to register publicly the ownership of handguns, a firestorm of (industry sponsored) lobbying hits Congress to stop government encroachment on private rights, but no specific organization apparently sees itself affected by the NSA snooping. This is wrong. It will strongly affect the US lead in communications and data (companies like Google, Facebook and Microsoft). These industries should take the lead in organizing and lobbying against this violation of constitutionally protected freedoms. There is also a certain convergence here of China and the US on the choice to emphasize security over freedom, so it is easy to see why Beijing would not champion Snowden. It will be interesting to see if the EU (Germany has experienced absolute tyranny in the past) will take the lead on human rights at this point.
Americans tend to think they are the best people in the world and they have the best system in the world. Why do we non-Americans need a Big Brother or a world police while sacrificing our HUMAN RIGHTS, which Americans always build moral high ground upon, for the security of their nation- the great United States of America? Their "perfect" system protects their people, not others outside of their country, not even other nationals in their country. Americans perceive themselves the Savior of the entire world, such as Mr. Chugani.
Likewise, as Mr. Chugani pointed out, imagine what the US government would do if a Chinese official disclosed government's top secret to the world? They would charter a flight and fly him/her to the US territory in no time and proclaim that person a hero.
Whatever 'tunes' Mr Snowden has been playing, he has never answered this question: How exactly can a government fight terrorism without various means of surveillance (secret or otherwise)? Perhaps he can persuade the terrorists to come out voluntarily?
What right has the United States government got to SPY on people outside of their country who ARE NOT their citizens? Do not forget that we have the right to protect our privacy from being spied at by some country who think of themselves are big brother and not subject to what they preach.
the sun also rises
As an Ameican who works in Hong Kong, a part of China and his boss has lots of investments in Mainland China.This American's e-mail account probably has been hacked into in the past 4 years by the NSA too.Right ?
I will not be surprise. All that talk of Americans not being spied on is just pure b.s. Example, how could they have arrested someone within the United States who is plotting an act and yet not spy on American communications?
Do not be so hard on Mr. Chugani. He is paid to fill blank pages and empty air waves, not to think.
Like many Americans, he believes he can have freedom without having personal privacy. But without personal privacy, freedom is only an illusion.
without personal privacy, freedom is only an illusion.
Well said.
We cannot combat terrorism with another evil strategy. That would end up ourselves being evil.
the sun also rises
I would like Michael to read the letter to the editor (in today's SCMP) written by Mr.Paul Serfatty titled:'Attacking Criticism of Spying betraying our Rights'.And please ask yourself a question,being an American living and working outside that 'great' nation,do you support cyber-surveillance on the excuse of anti-terrorism in the territory where you live and work ?
More people are killed in traffic accidents than by terrorism. Also it's interesting that Mr. Chugani's article brings up the Boston bombings. Why didn't this amazing NSA surveillance program prevent it from happening? I personally suspect that this NSA program doesn't have much to do with stopping terrorism at all.




SCMP.com Account