Public Eye

Whistle-blower plays two tunes

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 19 June, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 19 June, 2013, 5:14am

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.

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