Public Eye: the stink from this mountain of mess just gets worse
The mainland spin on the missing booksellers has failed miserably; Hongkongers are not buying it
It’s easy to create a pile of poop. Cleaning it up is something else. The pile wasn’t that big when Hong Kong bookseller Gui Minhai disappeared in Thailand.
It got a bit bigger when three of his associates disappeared in Guangdong weeks later, but still the Hong Kong media gave it only moderate attention. Stupidly emboldened by this, the abductors snatched a fifth bookseller, Hongkonger Lee Bo, right here in Hong Kong. The small pile suddenly became a mountain.
Let’s assume, and you won’t be wrong if you did, that the abductors were mainland security agents so peed off with the five for selling books critical of mainland leaders that they thought nothing of violating our laws to teach them a lesson. What that shows is that 18 years after the handover, they are still clueless that Hongkongers have a line to protect their core values that they will fiercely defend. Now the mainland is left with a mountain of poop that is too messy to clean.
The first cleaning attempt only made the pile messier. They paraded a remorseful Gui on state TV confessing that he voluntarily returned to face mainland justice for violating probation by fleeing after killing a female university student in a driving accident 13 years ago.
Public Eye doesn’t know if the televised confession was forced or not. But we know this: most Hongkongers won’t buy Gui’s story. It appears he was indeed involved in a fatal 2003 drink-driving case. But in the minds of Hongkongers, that is not why he and his four associates were snatched.
The pile got even messier two days ago when Guangdong’s security bureau admitted it is holding Lee without saying why or if they had abducted him. Public Eye said last week the kidnap order didn’t come from the top but from rogue agents eager to please their bosses.
We still believe that because, as we had pointed out, if President Xi Jinping had wanted to quash a book about his pre-marriage sex life, the abduction would have been much cleaner and Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying would have stayed silent. Guangdong security admitting it has Lee supports the theory of a lower-level job.
A seething Xi has no doubt ordered a quick clean-up to limit the damage done to “one country, two systems”, which China has long touted as also a model for Taiwan reunification. But it’s taking so long because mainland security has many factional layers. First, the rogue agents had to be identified then a way found to put the best spin on a stinking pile.
The spin has so far flopped. We’re coming up to Lunar New Year. Why not hold Gui but free the other four to rejoin their families for the festival with the spin that inquiries have been completed?