Public Eye

Fearmongering over mainland officials in West Kowloon terminus kicks off hot, silly summer

Opposition must convince people it isn’t painting Beijing as a bogeyman, while some government claims on need for officials in West Kowloon are far-fetched

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 01 August, 2017, 11:38pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 01 August, 2017, 11:38pm

It’s going to be a long, hot and emotionally draining summer of taking sides. Which are you on?

The loyalist side which trusts that mainland officials will only perform routine immigration duties in areas they control at the West Kowloon express railway terminus? Or the side that fears Beijing has far more ominous intentions by enforcing mainland law in the heart of our city?

Where you stand depends on whether you are a patriot who believes the motherland wants only good for the city or a cynic convinced our communist masters aim to swallow freedom-loving Hong Kong bit by bit.

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I don’t know whether to fear mainland laws enforced on Hong Kong soil. The opposition must convince me it isn’t painting Beijing as a bogeyman ahead of a by-election necessitated by the ousting of six of its legislators.

Former legislator Margaret Ng Ngoi-yee’s warning that mainland officials could nab Hongkongers if they go near the terminus smacks of fearmongering.

But I also find far-fetched the government’s assertion the mainland must enforce all its laws, not just immigration, customs and quarantine, in West Kowloon to stop bad guys from fleeing to seek sanctuary here.

Why is Hong Kong’s cross-border rail link causing such a fuss?

Some efforts to sway public opinion have been downright silly. Martin Lee Chu-ming, a Basic Law drafter, claimed that if Beijing can lease part of West Kowloon it can lease a chunk of Central to enforce mainland laws against future Occupy uprisings.

It takes a huge leap of the imagination to take that seriously. But let’s suppose it happens.

Who would enforce mainland law in Central occupied by thousands of protesters? The PLA garrison here? If protesters refuse to budge, would soldiers open fire like they did during the Tiananmen crackdown?

Even if they arrest protesters, how would they transport them to face trial on the mainland? Force them onto trains or ships while a stunned media records it for a global audience?

It’s going to be a long summer. And also a silly one.