Sharp Daily has reported on a 46-year-old Hong Konger who has been arrested for writing ‘go to hell, Xi Jinping’ on a stairwell wall in Ma On Shan. Sha Tin police sent officers from the Regional Crime Unit (which deals with serious criminal cases), who ‘monitored’ the ‘crime scene’. The man was caught, ballpoint pen in hand, at 8am on April 18th.
Netizens were in uproar, believing the case to be an instance of political persecution, designed to intimidate citizens. Traditionally, cases involving graffiti are not investigated so thoroughly. Tsang Tsou Choi, the ‘King of Kowloon’s, scribblings were also anti-establishment yet were often celebrated. Tsang created 55,000 outdoor works over 50 years on everything from post boxes to flyovers. After his death in 2007, his work now changes hands for hundreds-of-thousands of dollars at Sotheby’s.
Netizen reactions, translated by Oiwan Lam at globalvoicesonline.org…
Nelson Ho: If Tsang Tsou Choi were still alive, wouldn’t he be prosecuted under the charge of subversion?
Green-man Lam: Hong Kong police might as well claim that graffiti is inciting subversion of state power.
Simon Man Ho Wong: Farting would become a terrorist attack here!
Ha Ding Kei: From now on, whenever we find graffiti or writing on any wall, street lamps, etc., we should report it to the police and demand the Crime Units follow up on the investigation. Be a good citizen and serve our duty. The police has to open a file once you report to them.
The news comes as an American report on human rights is published (PDF). Whilst the notion of the USA commenting on such a topic is hilarious in itself, its findings were accurate and its conclusions won approval from the HK Human Rights Monitor. It also forced the South China Morning Mouthpiece to report on its own own shameful shout-out regarding their handling of the Li Wangyang case.
Break out the popcorn – highlights (lowlights?) below…
Press freedom: “87% of reporters, photographers, editors, and management surveyed said that media freedoms had deteriorated in the past several years… Journalists and press freedom activists complained that the assignment of Wang Xiangyang, a mainlander and a Chinese People’s Political Consultative Congress member, as editor in chief of the South China Morning Post was another sign that press freedom was deteriorating. Media watchers cited Wang’s June 7 decision to reduce reports about the suspicious June 6 death of Tiananmen Square dissident Li Wangyang to a short blurb as evidence of pressure from Beijing’s liaison office in Hong Kong, a troubling sign, they alleged, for press freedom”
Freedom of assembly: “Demonstrators continued to claim that their ability to protest had become increasingly difficult due to Hong Kong Police Commissioner Andy Tsang”… “Some activists also alleged that police faced no penalty for making arrests that ultimately were not prosecuted or were dismissed by the courts.”… “Activists and pan-democratic legislators expressed concern that the government took a more restrictive view of protests at the central government liaison office”
Democracy: The Basic Law… “limits the right of residents to change their government peacefully. The government stated that the current method of selecting [functional constituency] legislators did not conform to principles of universal suffrage, but it took no steps to eliminate the FCs”.
Equal rights: “Gay rights groups continued to complain that the government’s sponsoring of seminars on “homosexual conversion therapy” demonstrated the government’s antigay rights views.”
‘National Education’: “A proposed “moral and national education” curriculum set off street protests in July that continued into August and September. Opponents argued the plan would gloss over difficult periods in Chinese history, such as the Great Leap Forward, Cultural Revolution, and Tiananmen Square massacre, and “brainwash” schoolchildren to love the Chinese Communist Party.”
Worker’s Rights: “There is no law concerning working hours, paid weekly rest, rest breaks, or compulsory overtime for most employees.”
Minorities: “Activists… noted that government programs encouraging predominantly Chinese schools to welcome minority students backfired, turning whole schools into “segregated institutions.”
Corruption: “Between January 1 and September 30, there were 936 corruption reports involving government personnel concerning alleged breaches of provisions under the Prevention of Bribery Ordinance…378 were under investigation, 315 were nonpursuable, and 243 were unsubstantiated after investigation”
The report also touched on everything from the treatment of the Falun Gong, to refugees, to the domestic helper court case to internet monitoring.