Category Archives : News: Full Lowdown

INTERVIEW – Benny Tai: Occupy Central Organiser, Part 1 – ‘The Basics’

No Filter Interview seriesWhat is the pro-democracy ‘Occupy Central with Love & Peace’ plan and why is it dominating the news? Organiser and HKU Associate Professor at Law Benny Tai explains it like you’re 10 in a new ‘back-to-basics’ interview with Hong Wrong. The 20-minute primer about the non-violent ‘last resort’ protest movement includes:

  • The basics: Who is behind Occupy Central? What are its aims and how did we get here?
  • Beijing’s response: How does the movement fit in with Beijing’s own idea of ‘universal suffrage with Chinese characteristics’?
  • Methods: What does the complicated deliberation process entail? Does Benny have a personal preference for an election model? And how does HK’s situation compare to Taiwan’s recent occupation protest?
  • Media coverage: Is there a conscious effort to smear the campaign? How valid are the predictions of violence and accusations that the proposal is ‘illegal’?

You can listen to the interview in a number of formats…

English captions are embedded in the video above. You can also stream an audio version below.

POLITICS – The Authorities Fear Occupy Central… Because It Will Work

Occupy Central with Peace and LoveOccupy Central with Love and Peace’ (unrelated to the ‘Occupy Wall St’) is a proposal by pro-democracy activists to take over Central as a non-violent ‘last resort’ measure to demand one-person-one-vote. The idea was popularised last year after leaders in Beijing stated that any future HK leader must pledge to ‘love both the country and Hong Kong’. By March 2014, China had ruled out full democracy stating that citizens will not be able to choose candidates.

The article below is adapted from a Op-ed by Hong Wrong featured in the Ming Pao over the weekend (original English version here).

Only in Hong Kong could one spend 18 months debating a protest. This is Protest City where there are hundreds each year, on every topic, often with accompanying counter-protests and protests to counter those counter-protests. They are usually formulaic but they come in all sizes. Some are angry, some are solemn; some take the form of hurling hell money or fruit around LegCo whilst others involve of thousands of Hong Kongers surrounding government headquarters forcing leaders to pay attention. One thing, however, that unites post-colonial protest culture is how consistently peaceful such gatherings are. Having witnessed the city’s strong tradition of nonviolent dissent from the frontlines over the past 9 years, it is obvious that Occupy Central should be no different. For people such as C. K. Chow, chairman of the Chamber of Commerce, to suggest otherwise amounts to alarmist hysteria.

Occupy Central organisers, Hong Kong

Occupy Central organisers, Reverend Chu Yiu-ming, Dr Benny Tai Yiu-ting, and Chan Kin-man.

POLITICS – Full Lowdown: 2 New Reports Slam Hong Kong Media Self-Censorship

Hong Kong enjoys a unique position in China with rule of law and freedom of speech enshrined in its mini-constitution. Media outlets based in the city therefore have an unrepresented opportunity to be Beijing’s ‘watchdogs’ and fulfil a role that would be impossible behind the Great Chinese Firewall where civil liberties are restricted. However, it appears that Hong Kong’s press have settled into a role of Beijing’s ‘lapdogs’ as opposed to ‘watchdogs’, with multiple reports lamenting the city’s declining journalistic freedom.

via AFP/Getty

Today, Hong Kong fell three places in the Reporters Without Borders Press Freedom Index. We are now 61st – behind Burkina Faso, Moldova and Haiti.  Also today, a scathing new analysis of Hong Kong’s ‘cancerous’ plague of self-censorship was published by the Committee to Protect Journalists in New York. As well as detailing physical attacks on journalists, it reveals how more than half of the city’s media owners have now accepted appointments to Beijing’s main political assemblies.

The CPJ states that media freedom is now at a “low point” with a 2013 HKU study showing that more than half of the public now believe the press self-censors.

POLITICS – Full Lowdown: Time Hong Kong Moved On from Manila Bus Crisis 50

The Hong Kong journalists removed from Indonesia’s APEC summit elicited little sympathy from netizens this week. HK radio and TV crews had their press passes revoked and were briefly detained by Bali Police after hollering questions about the Manila Bus Crisis at Benigno Aquino, president of the Philippines. Whilst this blog believes world leaders often deserve a good heckling, the reporters in question were accused of adopting an ‘activist’ approach by aggressively shouting irrelevant questions…

Some online commenters saw their actions as irresponsible and their eviction from the premises somewhat deserved, if not a little extreme. NOW TV, however, stated their reporters were “only engaged in normal reporting duties.” This is in-keeping with the competitive behaviour of tabloid journalists back in HK, where it is ‘normal’ to accost public figures, trigger scuffles with sharpened elbows or harass victims.

ACTIVISM – Full Lowdown & Photos: Hong Kong’s July 1st 2013 Pro-Democracy Protests 14

Today, thousands of Hong Kongers hit the streets demanding full democracy in an annual protest against the local and national governments.

Demonstrators assembled in Victoria Park at 2:30pm and, in spite of ‘T3’ tropical storm warnings and intense heat, marched down Yee Wo Street to Hennessy Road and on to Statue Square in Central.

Icarus Wong Ho-ying of the organising body, the Civil Human Rights Front, told the SCMP that “the lives of Hongkongers have been getting worse, with an obvious example being the wide poverty gap.”

POLITICS – Full Lowdown: US Whistleblower Edward Snowden Seeks Refuge in Free Speech HK 5

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Edward Snowden, Glenn Greenwald’s source for the American NSA (National Security Agency) whistle blower story, has been taking refuge in Hong Kong. Snowden chose HK as “they have a spirited commitment to free speech and the right of political dissent”. In an interview with The Guardian columnist below, he stated that…

“Hong Kong has a strong tradition of free speech. People think ‘China; great firewall’. Mainland China does have significant restrictions on free speech but the people of Hong Kong have a long tradition of protesting in the streets, making their views known, their internet is not filtered here. No more so than any other western government. And I believe that the Hong Kong government is actually independent in relation to a lot of other western governments.”

POLITICS – Full Lowdown: Battle of the Bullshit – Falun Gong Edition 8

For many years, displaced and local members of the Falun Gong have attempted to get their message across to mainland visitors at key tourist sites around the city. Whilst some of their claims are said to be exaggerated, the suppression of their movement and persecution of those who practice the spiritual discipline is very much real.

In fact, Beijing has an extra-constitutional body dedicated to the “eradication” of the group, via extra-judicial sentencing, coercive ‘re-education’ and torture. The New York Times reported that 2,000 Falun Gong adherents have been tortured to death since the persecution campaign began in 1999. Today, the Falun Gong diaspora sport their own newspaper and TV channel, having established themselves as one of the main voices of opposition to China’s one-party rule…

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Recently, fellow HK blogger BadCanto reported on a sudden spate of anti-Falun Gong banners featuring crude slogans normally seen north the border. The banners are so prolific in Yau Tsim Mong district that it sparked a debate regarding the line between free speech and littering. Slogans spotted in Kowloon, Tung Chung, Yuen Long and Causeway Bay include:

POLITICS – Full Lowdown: Election Aftermath. Protests Continue, Albert Ho Quits & Racist Candidate Loses 4

Click here and here for the full lowdown on the Scholarism anti-National Education protests. Scholarism’s latest statement is at the bottom of this page.

As the international news misreported CY Leung’s supposed ‘withdrawal’ of HK’s National Education farce, Hong Kongers went to the polls in record numbers (a 53% turnout) after months of protest.

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A class boycott planned for tomorrow will go ahead, it was announced today. Their Facebook events invites protesters to gather once more at 2pm. With a handful of schools already implementing the ‘patriotism classes’ (and those funded by the University Grants Committee or under the School-based Management Programme exempt from ‘opting out’), there was no sign of the programme actually being cancelled. Only the 2015 deadline for implementation was shelved in Leung’s last-minute announcement on the eve of Sunday’s election.