This month, 10kg of chemicals, 4kg of finished explosive substances, and paraphernalia used in the making of improvised explosive devices, such as modified mobile phones, circuit boards and a pressure cooker, were found in an abandoned school in eastern Kowloon . A senior Hong Kong police officer said that some of the chemicals seemed to be the same hazardous substances as had gone missing from laboratories at Hong Kong Polytechnic University during its occupation by anti-government protesters , in November. This was the 11th case involving home-made bombs the police force had handled since anti-government demonstrations broke out in Hong Kong last summer. Public reactions to each discovery, even on occasions when the devices exploded as intended by their makers, have been curiously blasé. While it is true that no injuries or deaths have so far resulted from these makeshift devices, Hongkongers’ collective shrug in the face of their threat seems inexplicable. One of the greatest achievements in traditional Chinese law, the Tang Code, which was created and used during the Tang dynasty (618–907), contained provisions against criminal acts that would cause mayhem and heavy casualties in the general population. These acts included injuring or killing pedestrians while riding one’s carriage or horse, shooting arrows into crowded areas such as cities and towns, causing a disturbance or worse by spreading rumours, damaging dams or levees, arson, and many others. If caught, perpetrators in serious cases involving fatalities or the taking of hostages would be sentenced to death, either by decapitation or strangulation. Comparatively lighter punishments such as hard labour and exile were meted out to less serious crimes like setting fire to public and private buildings. The Tang dynasty also sought to keep the peace in the civilian population, and more importantly to protect the safety of the regime, by prohibiting the private possession and manufacturing of military grade weapons and implements. Commoners who were found with arms such as crossbows and spears, as well as suits of armour for men and horses, would be punished. Depending on the quantity in question, punishments for illegal possession of such military hardware ranged from hard labour to death by strangulation. Those who were found manufacturing weapons and armour would be beheaded. Modern laws are thankfully more humane, and Hong Kong has a tradition of respecting the rule of law. Even the best of laws, however, do not exist in a vacuum, divorced from sociopolitical conditions. Justified or otherwise, there is a breakdown of trust in the very people who are enforcing the law in present-day Hong Kong. The distrust has even extended to the courts. To many in the anti-government and anti-mainland-China camp, the latest discovery of an explosive device and the components used to make one was most likely part of a nefarious “conspiracy” to discredit the democratic movement. They would even claim that this stash, and the earlier ones that were found, were planted by infiltrators in the “yellow” camp or even the police themselves. With such a prevalence of cynicism and mistrust, it is perhaps not surprising that there has been little alarm among Hongkongers over bombs in their midst.