Truth beyond question, truth denied
Updated: Nov 18, 2020
My mother, bless her soul, was the one who taught me the virtue of honesty.
I won't go into that story, but I do wish to pose a question to you about the honesty of our leaders, the honesty of those to whom we entrust the responsibility of governance, and of enforcing the law of the land.
How important do you think it is that people in authority respect and live by the truth?
The oft-said quote about "Power corrupting, and absolute power corrupting absolutely" has perhaps never been more true as far as people in Hong Kong (HK) have recently observed.
Another philosopher and critic has since written that "Absolute power does not corrupt absolutely; absolute power attracts the corruptible." (Frank Herbert Dune)
We know from various sources that mainland China is not without its fair share of corruption. It's not something you can easily stamp out or legislate 100% effectively against.
But let us focus on HK
HK has become a divided city, with pro-Beijing, pro-CCP people as exemplified by Chief Executive (CE) Carrie Lam on the one side, and pan-Democratic freedom fighters on the other, as exemplified by activists such as Joshua Wong. Both sides express their truth with conviction, believing that what they say is right, just, and beyond question.
BUT, how, in the name of god (no blasphemy intended) can people with diametrically opposed ideas both be right at the same time?? When people have opposing or dissenting views does that somehow mean they are threats to national security or that they have the minds of criminals?
It's clear that truth can be bought, hijacked, ignored, overlooked, or lost. People can be paid off. Whether deliberately or not, at times truth can be dismissed as irrelevant, or immaterial, because it is uncomfortable and inconvenient. Sometimes we just don't see the truth when it is staring us in the face! And while we optimistically believe that truth "will win out", that will not likely occur without cost or casualities along the way.
How many lies can be told by those in authority to cover up ONE inconvenient truth?
How long can the truth be denied?
What follows here are not the ten commandments, but rather ten HK contexts where people in authority have lied or are continuing to do so; they have concealed the truth, or failed to tell the whole story.
1. Yuen Long
The ongoing Yuen Long saga began some time before the evening of 21 July 2019, during the 2019–20 HK protests, when a mob attack occurred in Yuen Long, a town in the New Territories. According to Wikipedia, an armed mob of alleged triad members dressed in white indiscriminately attacked civilians on streets with steel rods and rattan canes, before attacking passengers in nearby Yuen Long MTR train station including the elderly, children, black-clad protesters, journalists and lawmakers. At least 45 people were injured in the incident, including a pregnant woman.
In the ensuing months there have been allegations made against people, with all kinds of claims and assertions flying back and forth. Pleas for a thorough and prompt investigation by the HK Police Force (HKPF) did not draw the kind of immediate response and arrests that many people expected, and there has been ongoing criticism of the force for how slow it was moving, as well as criticism of apparent flaws in its sluggish, piecemeal investigation.
This perhaps came to something of a head recently in two separate occasions: firstly, the police changed their description of the attack and began a narrative in which the victims were instead being called participants in a "gang brawl"; secondly, an RTHK television programme "Who Owns the Truth" was broadcast that exposed the likely complicit involvement of village heads in the Yuen Long attack, and following this the journalist responsible for investigating the ownership of several vehicles used by the attackers was arrested by the Police - reportedly as a follow up on a complaint that she had illegally accessed and misused private data.
There are further details that raise concern about the circumstances of why and when the procedures for making application to access registered vehicle owner details were changed, showing in this case that journalists have less freedom to do their investigative work than before, and this potentially is in breach of HK's Basic Law that guarantees freedom of the press.
2. HK Police
The HK Police with its back up hardware and professional training is clearly critical to the maintenance of law and order in the city. However, their honesty, reliability and loyalty have increasingly been questioned by the people of HK who they are supposed to serve. From the get go in 2019, the HKPF appeared to deliberately under-report the number of protesters taking part in mass rallies.
'Police are telling us lies': Hong Kong protests no longer about extradition bill, Sydney Morning Herald, 5 September 2019.
‘Lying has become a norm’: Hong Kong police falsely accused protesters of blocking ambulances, democrats say, Hong Kong Free Press, 24 June 2019.
‘Investigate police violence, stop police lies’: Hong Kong police axe press con amid journalists’ silent protest over arrests, Hong Kong Free Press, 4 November, 2019.
Apart from the Yuen Long incident previously outlined there is grave distrust about WHO the actual officers of the force are, since many refused to show their warrant cards despite the repeated insistance of members of the public. There was grounds for disquiet about the subterfuge behaviour of undercover and plainclothes police officers planting themselves in the midst of protests, and the probability or possibility that either uniformed mainland officers or PLA were also embedded in the HK force.
There has been a litany of court cases involving HK officers that can only be called 'bad apples'; read our blog on officers who have found their careers in tatters.
When the HKPF were holding daily media briefings during the 2019 protests Sergeant Vascoe Williams notoriously defended his officers who had allegedly attacked an elderly man they arrested and took into a dimly lit alley in Yuen Long. Despite the damning video evidence, Sergeant Williams was unsympathetic towards the person arrested, referring to him as a "yellow object".
In HK courts we also now see that the HKPF backed up by the Department of Justice frequently shows its incompetence and dishonesty, in pursing legal cases against pro-democracy and anti-extradition Bill protesters with insufficient or conflicting evidence, forced confessions and unreliable testimony:
Hong Kong protests: security chief rejects accusation police have lied on stand in court cases tied to unrest, Yahoo! News, SCMP, 4 November 2020
Hong Kong court acquits district councillor of police assault charge; magistrate says officers ‘told lie after lie’, Hong Kong Free Press, 13 August 2020
Couple Charged With Rioting After Hong Kong Protest Are Found Not Guilty, 365 News, 24 July 2020
Hong Kong protests: seven cleared of riot charges as judge rules black clothing, protective gear no proof of participation, SCMP, 31 October 2020
Hong Kong court acquits student of riot charge, casts doubt on police testimony, Hong Kong Free Press, 3 June 2020
Court acquits Hong Kong man accused of pushing policeman during protests, MSN News/SCMP, 7 July 2020
Please also read our blog: “Damage to the legal system when police openly telling lie” which is correspondence from the Chairman of Court Prosecutors Association to Secretary of Justice and Director of Public Prosecutions in HK.
Is the HKPF incompetence a deliberate and calculated response to CCP threats and intimidation? It could be that the HKPF are purposefully doing the CCP dirty work of crushing dissent in a half-hearted way - the work they didn't have the spine to reject outright in the first place all those months ago. The only problem is that now in HK, as a result, we have National Security Laws, and a national security office of the mainland Police staffed with more-tenacious cadres of the CCP.
In many situations it is expected that government departments might work together and that their cooperation might facilitate better efficiency within and between the public service sectors. Usually there are rules and procedures governing such interdepartmental sharing of skills, resources, information etc and any collaboration.
So, in the HK12 case we want to know whether there was any collaboration between the HK coastguard, the HKPF, the Government Flying service, and mainland authorities. International news media outlet Radio Free Asia (RFA) reported on 27 August 2020 that the 12 were apprehended in a "speedboat" off HK's Eastern outlying islands the Ninepins which is just offshore from Sai Kung, deep inside HK territorial waters (please see our blog).
If this is true, this could only mean that HK Marine Police apprehended them because Chinese Coast Guard vessels are not normally permitted to be inside HK territorial waters!
Exactly how mainland authorities were able to locate 12 young people on a boat, reportedly fleeing HK and making their way towards Taiwan, arrest and effectively extradite them to Shenzhen is not a complete mystery despite the efforts of authorities and statements by people in authority that seem only to futher conceal the truth. What is there to hide?
There are numerous inconsistencies in the denials and assertions made by authorities, and without access to the arrested parties for either lawyers or journalists, the truth is yet to be revealed.
Hong Kong Authorities Colluded in Rendition of 12 Detainees to Mainland China: Activists
RFA, 8 October 2020
"Hong Kong police commissioner Chris Tang claimed on Aug. 27 that the 12 weren't detained as part of a cross-border operation, adding that they hadn't contacted the Chinese authorities about the incident until Aug. 28.
Police later cited a "reply" from Guangdong police on Sept. 25 confirming the seizure of a speedboat "suspected of illegally crossing the border."
Democracy activist Lester Shum said it was now fairly clear that the police had lied.
"The thing that we can get with certainty from this newly discovered evidence is that everything that has been said up until now by police, security secretary John Lee and by chief executive Carrie Lam is a total lie, definitely, 100 percent," Shum told RFA.
"The Hong Kong police and government had a hand in this all along, and colluded in the deliberate rendition of these 12 Hong Kong youths to mainland China," he said."
4. Carrie Lam
Chief Executive (CE) of HK has since the start of her tenure repeatedly stated that her intentions are to do what is good for HK, going as far as considering herself "the mother" of the city. However, many people feel that the CE has been treasonous, has sold out the city to the CCP. (See our blog: Propping Up Leader Lam)
In a conversation secretly recorded in the midst of the 2019 Extradition Bill crisis, the CE said she would resign if she could, but putting on her public face she denied having considered resignation and being subservient to CCP.
Rather than dig up dirt on other events from the past, let's look at something going on right now - and it involves dirt too - sand to be more exact.
Behind the CE's grand reclamation plan to solve HK's housing and land supply problem lies some inconvenient truths. Based on the estimated fill materials needed for the third runway of the airport, the 1,700-hectare Lantau Tomorrow Vision could require over 260 million cubic metres of fill. Delivering these huge amounts of sand the 950km from Qinzhou in the mainland to HK will inevitably create a large carbon footprint. This is an inconvenient truth that Lam and her top officials prefer not to disclose.
The problem is that HK itself does not have enough of its own fill for the massive reclamation project being envisioned. According to the Development Bureau, 15 million tonnes of construction waste are generated every year in HK, enough to reclaim only 60 hectares of land. Simple maths shows that, should the Lantau Tomorrow Vision mainly rely on the local supply of fill materials, it could take up to 28 years to complete the reclamation work, not to mention the time needed for other statutory procedures such as environmental impact assessments. There is no way in hell that this project with its massive financial cost and cost to the environment and marine life will materialise as a vision suitable for tomorrow or today!
We have to ask whether the Lantau Tomorrow Vision is yet another mechanism, like other so-called 'white elephant projects' by which HK taxpayer money would be squandered or deliberately siphoned away to mainland enterprises? Even a proposal to finance the development project through a private-public partnership has drawn criticism from a land concern group which argued that developers – rather than the people of HK – stand to benefit more from the massive Lantau reclamation project.
5. The Economy
Okay, so I am a little lazy, or economical with words.
The list of "ten commandments" didn't quite get to ten.
So what are you going to do about it? Fire me? Ask for a refund?
While many people acknowledge and accept the idea that politicians lie, I do not believe that we have all lost our moral compass and are entirely willing to let them do so without consequences.
What should we do when those in authority tell us a lie?
Should we let them off with the rationale that it was just a one-off event, a small lie, or unimportant in the grand scheme of things? How many lies does it take to be outraged? How far from the truth do we have to get before we take a reality check? How many lies does it take before someone like a president deserves to be impeached, or thrown out of office and what amount of evidence is needed??
In HK both Carrie Lam and Joshua Wong who I mentioned earlier have espoused religious and spiritual beliefs: do they even pray to the same GOD? Should we question their faith, or is this going too far?
Like the quotations smattered throughout this blog, my patent on the truth is no more valid than the next man or womans', but how do we solve this impasse in HK? There are organisations in many nations that revere the value of both truth and justice, for these are closely intertwined. The search for truth carried out by groups like Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch are clearly to be applauded.
If I were of a more fundamentalist persuasion I might say the CCP deserve to burn in hell. I'm reminded of the HK protester's slogan "If we burn, you burn with us", but that's more of a reference to the city's economic decline.
There are some indisputable truths of 2020 (dispute them if you wish):
The global pandemic has had a harmful impact on the world
CCP has had a harmful impact on law and order in HK
Despicable Police behaviour in HK and elsewhere has had a devastating impact on people's lives
CE Carrie Lam has brought havoc and instability to HK
Clearly these destructive things ought to be controlled or eliminated where possible.
CCP has chosen not to reply to allegations levelled at it of human rights abuses, etc, by UN special rapporteurs (See the correspondence listed below as a footnote with links). Other than just choosing to be pigheaded and beligerent with its "no response" response, there are other choices and options open to the CCP (see our blog: Two options for Chinese Communist Party).
Many media outlets mention CCP's 'increased assertiveness' on the global stage, when the truth is the party's actions would be more aptly described as aggression.
It's been suggested that a suitable response to the CCP is to "Cut the head off the snake" (see our blog: To decouple CCP from China 'cut the head off the snake'). The CCP continues it work very pro-actively in the SAR through its Liaison Office.
The fine art masterpiece the people of HK were sold in 1984 known as The Joint Declaration, has now been proven to be a fake; the CCP has executed a fraud on us.
Or to put it in another way: The flashy high performance car we were sold on the expectation that we could drive it and park it in our garage is not only failing to deliver - it's a lemon! To make matters worse there is no manufacturer's operating manual, and spare parts are non-existent!
The "One Country, Two System" model was only ever a hollow promise, a ploy with words, a salesman's trick. So every time Carrie Lam, or the CCP statesman or spokesperson said that bullshit mantra 'One country, two systems' they were deceiving the people of HK and the world. What crooks, what finks!
No matter what the CCP says, it doesn't change the truth, the facts, or the evidence we observe and gather.
The Joint Declaration on the future of HK as signed by China in 1984 has been OVERTURNED - it's far worse than the CCP's earlier breaches. In fact the latest reports and plans coming out of mainland China suggest that the CCP intends to fully install its own government authority in HK and Macau by 2025.
Will the UN, the UK and other democratic bodies of the world respond meaningfully to protect little HK from the behemoth that is the totalitarian CCP-China?
Truth is needed in ACTION, not just words.
The incontrovertible truth is that since 2019 we are each a year older, and supposedly wiser! What have we learnt about CCP, freedom, democracy and the HK government?
The way they see things and the way we do things are frequently very different. The CCP is driven by complex and conflicting forces such as economics, geopolitics, or diplomacy, as well as historical and contemporary factors, like nationalism or the U.S. trade war.
The current infiltration of HK by CCP draws definite historical comparisons with that of Nazi Germany entering Poland in WWII, the annexation of Crimea by Russian forces, or how Japan took over Manchuria.
Rather than focus on our differences, we ought to recognise what we have in common: we all want what is best for HK - and also for mainlanders - but especially for ourselves and our families; we all want stability and prosperity - though we accept that changes for the better are to be embraced and will require our adjustment.
It's in how we achieve these aims, and who will get there first, who will enjoy them most, that we disagree. It's my opinion that the principle of fairness should be exercised here.
Governments must engage with their people in a conciliatory, democratic and open manner. Governance is about helping the people to get what they want, but in the case of the CCP I am increasingly convinced their totalitarian form of governance is all about those in power getting what they want, and having things their own way. Xi Jinping acts as if he is the ruler of the whole world - which he is not!
Since the CCP rule BY law, ordinary citizens are in a very weak position. In HK people are having fate imposed upon them by a government they did not fairly elect or choose. Ordinarily I might have trust in the judiciary and the courts to even things up, but even they seem to be stacked against us (see our blog: Injustice of HK's DoJ: no public prosecution and terminating private prosecutions).
It would be nice if CCP could reflect on its convictions and beliefs; if they were prepared to admit they may have made some mistakes, or that they did things in an ill-advised way. They might start, for instance, with a revised official response to the Tiananmen Square massacre. They could even come clean about what they are doing with the people of Xinjiang.
If they were not so much concerned about saving face, and were not so threatened by dissent and criticism, perhaps they could develop a different understanding, a new insight, an alternative position that is more accommodating of the truth as we in HK see it. They could unflinchingly allow HK to fully retain its 'high degree of autonomy'. They might submit, for instance, to a well organised and independently run referendum for HK so that the will of the people could be acknowledged and acted upon.
"In your dreams!" did I hear you say? CCP is more in control now than ever before and they won't relinquish that power. The fox is in charge of the chickens! I am yet to hear any plan for the future governance of HK that has actually asked the people who live here what they want. Strange that!
Yes it sad, to use another metaphor, that Beijing and the CCP is intent on killing the golden goose that is HK! Xi Jinping has even set out a hairbrain economic plan to replace HK with Shenzhen, that all critics say will NEVER work, or match the capabilities of the SAR. CCP just wants to control and assimilate HK as part of its global empire.
I do have an internal monologue playing out in my head that ponders what the final outcome of the HK political crisis will be.
How different things would be in HK right now if the HKPF or some unions acting in solidarity had sided with the protesters of the pro-democracy movement, had gone on an indefinite strike, or even voiced out unequivocal support for equal and universal suffrage - in support of that protester demand!
Enough of wishful thinking, enough!
The business people and elites meddling in HK governance clearly had too much at stake to throw in their chips when protests started. It's about greed. Those in power or with power never want and never wanted to concede or make concessions to HK protesters. That's the truth!
The current crisis for HK and for CCP may have been averted if the will of the people had been respected. Instead the police, and workers of HK have continued to be played as pawns by CCP, under threat of a PLA invasion.
Going back to the earlier metaphor of the flashy high performance car we were sold that is failing to deliver, that has no manufacturer's operating manual, and a lack of spare parts....it may be time to ditch this unreliable vehicle, to cut our losses and start the search for something that better meets our revised specifications!
Right now, after a lengthy period of protest and continuing rebuffs and disappointments, numbers of Hong Kongers are coming to terms with the city's new reality. They are weighing up their options. Some are packing up and leaving the city for good - the good they hope to find in foreign places because the CCP is making life here in the SAR intolerable, and we have quite frankly been betrayed.
Foreigners too are ending their employment contracts, closing up shop and heading away for their own safety. They are heading to places where life and business are less risky and have more to offer. They are migrating to places where TRUTH and JUSTICE are more than cliches, where DEMOCRACY and FREEDOM are enjoyed, respected and upheld.
No one is saying that the life rafts of new lives in foreign places being offered Hong Kong's asylum seekers and emigrants are perfect arrangements, but at least those who take up citizenship elsewhere will be able to take part in realising their own destiny. They will be able to start anew and regain their dignity. They will no longer be denied the right to self-determination, or have threats hung over them, or rule BY law thrust upon them by the bullish overlord that is the CCP, who wouldn't know the truth even if it one day bit them on their arse!
United Nations (UN) special rapporteurs have written the following letters to China on matters relating to HK’s anti-extradition protests which began in 2019 :
UN special rapporteurs' letter to China dated 28 June 2019, alleged inappropriate use of disproportionate force and judicial processes, arbitrary arrests, violated human rights of peaceful assembly and other acts;
UN special rapporteurs' letter to China dated 29 January 2020, alleged inappropriate use of chemical agents during demonstrations from June to December of 2019 in Hong Kong;
UN special rapporteurs' letter to China dated 19 February 2020, serious concerns about the "harassment, intimidation and arrests" of healthcare workers and first-aiders during Hong Kong's anti-government protests, as well as police delaying treatment for injured demonstrators. They asked for details as to the legal basis for such arrests and detentions, and how they are consistent with the authorities' obligations under international human rights law;
UN special rapporteurs' letter to China dated 1 September 2020, alleged the new law's measures do not conform to China's legal obligations under international law. They also raised serious concerns about its impact on the freedoms that were guaranteed to Hong Kong when it was handed back to China from British control in 1997 under the Joint Declaration and democratic and human rights under the ICCPR and UDHR. "We are particularly troubled that this legislation may impinge impermissibly on the rights to freedom of opinion, expression and of peaceful assembly," they wrote. They added that it ran the "grave risk" of targeting the legitimate activities of political opponents, critics, students, and lawyers among others.