NEWS: ‘Fake’ Pro-Gov Protesters Paid to Rally Against HK Democracy Movement 6

Thousands of protesters occupied Central in a rally against the pro-democracy Occupy Central movement yesterday. However, Now TV, Cable TV, TVBOriental Daily and the Economic Journal each discovered instances of demonstrators being paid up to HK$480 or offered freebies to attend.

Protester in Hong Kong

via Aaron Anfinson for Hong Wrong.

Many attendees had been mobilised by ethnic groups, leftist organisations, pro-government political parties and even businesses.

protesters being handed cash to attend the pro-government rally.

Oriental Daily uncover protesters being handed cash at the pro-government rally.

Police said that 110,600 attended – more than their estimate for the July 1st pro-democracy march, which they put at 98,600. HKUPOP estimated that 79,000-88,000 attended whilst organisers claimed 193,000 took part. A single SocREC reporter conducted a nonstop headcount, estimating a turnout of 41,250.


POLITICS – The Power of the Powerless: Hong Kong’s Last Stand 3

Download PDFGuest Post: As astro-turfing groups plan a pro-government rally this weekend, pro-democracy activist Kong Tsung-gan examines why some form of nonviolent direct action will be necessary for Hong Kong’s democracy movement. For easy viewing, download this five-part essay as a PDF here.

1. Who are we? How did we get to be this way?

Quote - Power of the Powerless

In any freedom struggle, much of the struggle is between not only the oppressed and their oppressor but between the oppressed themselves, some of whom side with the oppressor, and within each of the oppressed, who in struggling against their oppressor also struggle against the voices within themselves that tell them to unconditionally obey authority or that there must be something wrong with them if they have such a grievance against ‘the way things are’, or that even if there is something wrong, it is utterly futile to fight it.  The fault lines are many.  Such is the case in the Hong Kong freedom struggle.  This is the result of Hong Kong’s history as a colony and an immigrant society.


POLITICS – Exclusive: ‘A Storm is Coming’ – What Really Happened to House News 5

Little Eye on Big Media, Hong KongGuest Post: House News, a leading ‘Huffington Post-style’ pro-democracy news site disappeared from the internet suddenly last weekend. Its archives were also deleted – but was it really about money? Ex-columnist Evan Fowler reveals the truth about its demise, in what is yet another blow for press freedom in Hong Kong.

The House News shut suddenly last Saturday. At lunch I was online checking news. Then came a cryptic message from an editor at House. It read, “Storm has arrived. Your writing must not stop”. I immediately checked online. Instead of a news page there was only a written statement from Tony Tsoi Ho Tung saying that House News has closed.Making allowances for translation, Tony began by stating his “fear”. He wrote of Hong Kong having changed; of pressure and surveillance; and of a wave or atmosphere of “white terror”.

He also stated his need to travel to the Mainland for business, and the deepening sense of fear he felt each time he crosses the border. It is a feeling he “can’t articulate to those not in his position”. Unusually, he chose to mention his family within this context of fear. He writes of their fears for him and of an increasing hostile atmosphere. It was a fear felt not by his person alone, but by his family.


ACTIVISM – Record Turnout for Gaza Protest as 500 Rally Against Israeli Actions

There have been many protests against Israeli in Hong Kong in recent years. Whether it be the attack on the aid flotilla, the bombing of Gaza or other human rights abuses, most protests attract a hard core of about 20-50 protesters.

Gaza hong kong protest

However, on Sunday around 500 people took to the streets in sweltering heat and rain to protest the Israeli bombardment of the Gaza strip. The demonstration was organised by two activists on social media with just 48 hours notice.


POLITICS – How Robert Chow’s Pro-Gov’t ‘Silent Majority’ Groups Lost the Plot

Guest Post: Last week, adopting the language of the left, the pro-Beijing ‘Silent Majority’ group founded the ‘Alliance for Peace & Democracy’ in a response to the peaceful July 1st march. In this essay, Evan Fowler recalls his meeting last year with convenor Robert Chow, and says that the choice is not between radical protest and constructive engagement, but between believing Hong Kong people deserve a say in their future and believing they do not.

Last year I was at a gathering at which Robert Chow, founder of Silent Majority and the recently convened Alliance for Peace and Democracy, outlined his case against the Occupy Central Movement. He began by stressing that he agreed with the democrats wish for political reform, but that he believed that the threat of Occupy Central was confrontational and would only antagonise Beijing. However, from this point on he lost the plot.

Faulty maths.
First there were repeated attempts to misuse data. He claimed that Silent Majority represented 75% of Hong Kong people. He quoted this figure from a HKU poll that concluded only 25% of people at the time believed Occupy Central would “succeed”. From this, Robert read this as meaning 75% of Hong Kong people are not only against the movement, but support Silent Majority. These figures were challenged, including by members of the survey team. Yet Robert continues to publicly and deliberately misrepresent these figures.

Fear-mongering.
Second, there was the fear-mongering. 10,000 people occupying Central, he claimed, would destroy the city. He claimed businesses would relocate and that we would see a mass flight of capital. Only then did he turn his eloquence to portraying the horrific social affects: a city brought to a standstill as roads are closed; our transport networks overloaded; rioting, looting and anarchy as our police and public services are overwhelmed. Images of pregnant mothers unable to be served at hospitals and children unable to attend school – all calculated to hit an emotional chord.

Tom Holland, the former SCMP economics columnist who was present at the gathering (and who has since left the Post), addressed the business case brilliantly when he pointed out that not only Central but the whole city completely shuts down during a typhoon, and yet, a point he stressed any economists will know, it has no effect on our economy as extra demand is generated immediately prior or immediately after such events. Capital, he reminded us, was drawn to a balance between opportunity and risk. Hong Kong’s advantages, from our Rule of Law to Freedom of Expression, are in fact what Occupy protesters are seeking to defend.

Silent Majority for Hong Kong,

Robert Chow (right) with a member of the Silent Majority for Hong Kong.


HISTORY – Evolution of the Hong Kong Skyline – a Visual History 16

Below is a brief visual history of how the Hong Kong skyline developed over the decades.

Pre-1869 painting of Hong Kong harbour

Pre-1869 painting via RGS-IBG image / E. L. Watling

1880s - Beginning with a rare shot of the harbour from the 19th century – the same decade in which the Star Ferry became operational.

 Hong Kong harbour

via New York Times

 Hong Kong harbour

1890, click to enlarge

1900s - Next, a quaint postcard from 1906 (via gwulo.com)…

 Hong Kong harbour

via gwulo.com

1910s – The CBD, gradually creeping up The Peak, was then named Victoria City. There was no light show back then (but click here for a photo of the harbour at night, some 106 years ago!)…