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i. Singapore doesn’t profit from Hong Kong chaos, says minister K Shanmugam

The law and home affairs minister says solutions will have to be found for Hongkongers’ socio-economic and political concerns.

But there is no easy way forward when people take entrenched positions and compromise is necessary, he adds.

A senior Singapore government official has described prolonged anti-government protests in Hong Kong as worrying, but insisted that the republic does not stand to gain from the ongoing unrest.

Minister for Law and Home Affairs K Shanmugam said that at the most basic level, Hong Kong must deal with the law and order situation that has arisen as protesters have broken into the city’s legislature, defaced flags, held sit-ins at the airport, surrounded police stations and disrupted public transport, among other things.

The extent of the protests, involving thousands including young people as well as members of different professions and civil servants, suggests underlying causes need to be addressed as well, and these could include young Hongkongers’ material aspirations.

But he noted that some protesters also have “an ideological perspective” and would like to see a different structure of government, referring to the calls for greater democracy in electoral systems.

A senior Singapore government official has described prolonged anti-government protests in Hong Kong as worrying, but insisted that the republic does not stand to gain from the ongoing unrest.

Minister for Law and Home Affairs K Shanmugam said that at the most basic level, Hong Kong must deal with the law and order situation that has arisen as protesters have broken into the city’s legislature, defaced flags, held sit-ins at the airport, surrounded police stations and disrupted public transport, among other things.

The extent of the protests, involving thousands including young people as well as members of different professions and civil servants, suggests underlying causes need to be addressed as well, and these could include young Hongkongers’ material aspirations.

But he noted that some protesters also have “an ideological perspective” and would like to see a different structure of government, referring to the calls for greater democracy in electoral systems.

“Unlike socio-economic issues, ideological issues could be more difficult to deal with,” he said in an interview with This Week in Asia in Singapore on Wednesday.

“And these seem to be deeply entrenched positions. My own view … when we see this, we are worried for Hong Kong.”

He said there was no easy way forward when people took entrenched positions. “To go forward is going to need compromise and a clear approach that deals with the problem – not just political, but also the social-economic problem.”

Protests in Hong Kong, first triggered by the government’s now-suspended extradition bill, have entered the third month and have turned increasingly violent.

Shanmugam said he was sure the Hong Kong government, like every government, would want to meet its people’s aspirations and seek solutions to issues raised. “But the solutions cannot be found if serious disruptions like these continue,” he added.

On the political front, he said, Hong Kong was part of China and Beijing would expect the city to adapt to the prevailing political structure in China.

“Some of the protesters seem to think that China will allow a very different system in Hong Kong. That is wishful thinking replacing reality,” he said.

The question was how China’s leaders would regard the demands of protesters in Hong Kong.

Looking at the situation from an outside perspective, he said Chinese Communist Party leaders might well conclude that some protesters are aiming at their rule and control of China.

“The current situation is challenging China, and I’m not sure that Chinese leaders will accept that or can accept that,” he said.

Shanmugam said not enough credit is given to China for lifting hundreds of millions of people out of poverty over the past three decades, describing it as “a huge achievement”.

“No country has done that in history, in 35 years,” he said.

Claiming that China’s system selects “very competent” people to be in government, he asked: “Is there a system, a political system that can do better for the people of China, compared to the current system? Which one? Name one? Whose system is better?”

“So ideology must square with reality,” he said.

Shanmugam also blamed international news organisations for presenting a “confused, muddied” picture of events in Hong Kong with superficial analyses, a skewed perspective and by engaging in labelling.

“All protesters are automatically, generally, democracy fighters,” he said. “Police on the other hand, are oppressive, attacking the forces of democracy, using excessive force. ‘They’re negative, they’re an evil force.’”

The ongoing unrest has led to reports that some wealthy businessmen based in Hong Kong had begun moving their assets overseas and Singapore was a beneficiary.

But Shanmugam said he did not believe the “superficial talk” that Singapore stood to benefit from the troubles in Hong Kong.

“We benefit from stability across the region, including Hong Kong,” he said. “If China does well, Hong Kong does well, the region does well, we do well.

“There’s no profit in seeing instability. And if Hong Kong is at odds with China, it’s a problem for everyone, including us.”

Asked about how Singaporeans viewed the ongoing protests, Shanmugam said many of them, perhaps the majority, believed they were lucky that this sort of unrest was not happening in the city state.

“If this happened to us, it would be bad for our economy and we don’t have the advantages Hong Kong has to weather such a situation,” he said.

“Hong Kong has the huge advantage of China’s support. Singapore has no one to support it.

“From that perspective, I think Singaporeans say if this happens in Singapore, it will be very troublesome and they are grateful that it is not happening here.”

The minister added that Hong Kong possessed deep strengths, including its financial system, stock exchange and proximity to mainland China, all of which savvy investors would note.

“Unless people become pessimistic about China, I don’t see immediate calculations being made by serious investors,” he said.

One area in which Hong Kong and Singapore have been competing is in regional legal and dispute resolution.

The city state received a boost with the naming this week of the Singapore Convention on Mediation, the international protocol on applying mediation agreements across 46 jurisdictions.

Shanmugam said the two cities were in healthy competition, in different geographical areas and serving potentially different needs.

He said: “There is enough work for Hong Kong and Singapore.”

While Hong Kong is launching its home-grown online mediation and arbitration platform later this year, Singapore is also studying the topic and considering reviewing legislation.

But he did not want to be drawn into saying if Hong Kong was catching up with Singapore or vice versa, making clear instead that Singapore examined the various issues of arbitration and mediation, and would proceed as it saw fit.

“We generally do not sit on things,” he said.

( https://www.scmp.com/week-asia/politics/article/3022217/singapo re-doesnt-profit-hong-kong-chaos-says-minister-shanmugam)

ii. Hong Kong protesters seeking to create chaos, says former German official

Dr. Michael Borchmann, a law expert and former government official from Germany, has written that the purpose of the ongoing protests in Hong Kong is to stir up chaos and turmoil in the city, and is not a response the draft extradition bill.

In an article entitled "Don't let Hong Kong fall into chaos", published in the German edition of the European newspaper Nouvelles d'Europe, Borchmann said it is true that freedom of speech and assembly is protected by law in Hong Kong, but this doesn't give people the right to use violence to impose on the freedoms of others.

Borchmann said the characterization of the recent actions of the protesters by some members of the German press as a general strike was incorrect. A strike, he said, means stopping work, but what's going on in Hong Kong now is all about committing acts of violence.

"The 'protesters' block the tracks at railway stations, leading to a disruption in railway and bus services. The roads have been heavily congested and more than 200 flights have been cancelled. Many streets in the city have also been sealed off, and residents who want to lead normal lives like they had before have been forced to get involved in the chaos," said Borchmann.

Borchmann said that it is in the best interests of Hong Kong and China as a whole to put an end to the protests with determined and tough action. He added that criticism of China by some voices in the Western media were irrelevant, as "the moon does not heed the barking of dogs."


iii. Hong Kong phooey! Would you like any hypocrisy with that?

【 George Galloway was a member of the British Parliament for nearly 30 years. He presents TV and radio shows (including on RT). He is a film-maker, writer and a renowned orator.】

Where to start? For nearly 40 weeks hundreds of thousands of French people have been on the streets in anti-government demonstrations against President Emmanuel Macron’s rule.

Some have lost eyes and hands in the police response. The public has begun to view the smell of tear gas as a normal part of a weekend in Paris. France is 29 miles from the coast of England. Siri just told me that “Hong Kong is about 5,992 miles from London as the crow flies.”

So complete has been the British media blackout on the Yellow Vests that many believe, wrongly, that there is some British government order banning on any mention of “les événements en France.” The truth is that there is no need for one.

Like a homing pigeon in reverse the entire UK media has flown like a bat out of hell away from France all the way to Hong Kong (as they had earlier flown to Caracas until the big protests turned into the wrong kind of protests).

There is nothing, except the shoe-sizes, of the demonstrators in Hong Kong that I don’t know thanks to the veritable blizzard of in-depth analysis of the protestors there and their each and every demand. Protesters in Saudi Arabia and Bahrain can be executed, but we will never be told their names.

And the hypocrisy of the media is just for starters.

If a group of British protesters broke into the British Parliament and hung, for argument’s sake, a Russian flag over the Speaker’s chair it is “highly likely” that a commando force would quickly and violently overwhelm and arrest them accompanied by volleys of accusations about Russian interference.

If a crowd of British protestors occupied Heathrow Airport in such numbers and so disruptively that British Airways had to stop flights in and out of the airport, causing massive financial loss, dislocation, and personal inconvenience, I promise you that their protest would have been cleared out by the above mentioned commandos on the very first day of their protests.

If protesters in London were hoisting Chinese flags and singing the Chinese national anthem then, well, I’m sure you get my point.

The struggle between the government of China and its citizens is no more the business of the British than it is of the Slovakians. It’s true that Hong Kong was a British colony for 150 years but the least said about the shame and disgrace of how that came to be, the better, I promise you.

Suffice to say that to acquire territory by force, followed by unequal treaty at gunboat-point to punish the actual owners of the land for resisting the British opium trade, is, even by British Imperial standards, extraordinary. So shameful is it you’d think the British would want to draw a veil over it. But not so.

The British tell us that Hong Kong want democracy but nobody ever says that across a century and a half of British rule in Hong Kong the people there were allowed no democracy of any kind.

They tell us about the justice system without ever mentioning that even today the ‘draconian’ courts of Hong Kong are still stuffed by white English judges.

They tell us about NGOs and “civil society” without telling us whose pounds and dollars the “NGOs” are stuffed with.

In fact, these foreign-funded and guided organisations are carefully stabled Trojan Horses chomping their British and American supplied hay until the time came for them to be told to gallop, and gallop they now are.

This is all Hong Kong phooey! No other country in the world would have shown such forbearance in the face of foreign-sponsored rioting destruction and sabotage of the national economy as China has. If in the days to come China’s patience runs out, it will not be before time so far as the great majority of Chinese citizens, including Hong Kong citizens, are concerned.

China signed up to the one country, two systems in the territory. It did not agree to two countries, two systems. Not one inch of Hong Kong belongs to anyone but China. The days when foreign countries could impose their will on China are long gone.


iv. Doubts about Hong Kong “justice” after narrow escape from “justice holders”— Junzo Aoyama

The Hong Kong that I loved

On June 12, a demonstration against the amendments to the Fugitive Offenders Ordinance was held near the Hong Kong Legislative Council Building.

At that time, I was also in Hong Kong— but for other things. I planned to go to mainland China via Hong Kong to observe the country’s wildlife.

However, I learned that day about the fierce clashes between the demonstrators and the Hong Kong police, and heard that the protesters would stage another large-scale demonstration on June 16.

So I decided to stay in Hong Kong for a few more days before my wildlife observation in mainland China to have an in-depth interview about the demonstration.

Since I studied at a university in Chongqing, China in 1988, I have always had transfers in Hong Kong on my trips between Chinese mainland and Japan. Roughly, I have crossed the Luohu Port connecting Hong Kong and China’s Shenzhen, Guangdong province for more than 560 times. For me, this was only a small part of my journey to the Chinese mainland to conduct my research and study—nothing special at all.

However, even for a person like me who has neither the interest in nor knowledge of the human society, could notice the “differences” between Hong Kong and the mainland from many perspectives as I traveled to and from mainland China and Hong Kong at such a high frequency.

I used to love Hong Kong (I am not sure whether I should use the expression “used to”). Every time I went through the exit formalities at the Guangzhou train station and boarded the non-stop train to Hong Kong after I finished my arduous research in remote mountainous areas in Sichuan and Yunnan provinces, I felt I came alive again.

Since last year, there have been incessant reports saying that the trains leading to down town Hong Kong from the mainland would seriously challenge Hong Kong's “sovereignty”, and Hong Kong's “anti-train movement” was also hyped by foreign media as a similar demonstration took place last July.

However, the direct train from Guangzhou to Hong Kong already started operation 30 years ago, and the differences now are only updated ticket offices, platforms, routes and trains.

I had strong affection for Hong Kong since I have had hundreds of round trips between mainland China and Japan via the city. However, such affection changed without my slightest notice.

Recently, I tend to get agitated when I’m in Hong Kong and feel more at ease in Shenzhen. I can’t figure out why.

Needless to say, one of the important reasons is that the Hong Kong's culture is gradually influenced by the Chinese values after its return to China.

Hong Kong’s territory accounts for about 1/10,000 China’s total and hence huge differences between their cultures.

For example, the Hong Kong people usually stand in lines while they are waiting in subway stations. However, things are different in Shenzhen and Guangzhou where passengers often crowd in front of the doors before the subway trains stop (However, the mainlanders never hesitate to offer their seats they scrambled to seniors - an interesting scene seldom happen in Hong Kong). Therefore, it seems natural for Hong Kong citizens to worry that their "freedom" and "human rights" might be deprived of.

However, during my recent visits to Hong Kong, I felt a sense of “disgust” which became even more evident after the interview this time.

Meaning of mask changed

I was in Hong Kong from June 12 to July 2. During the period, I collected the information about the practices and thoughts of the student protesters against the Hong Kong government, the citizens who supported the protest, the police, Islamists and Chinese mainlanders.

The first thing that I noticed was that most Hong Kong citizens, including the protesters, were extremely united in the campaign. The demonstrators were very disciplined and acted in unison, completely different from the loose demonstrations in Japan.

They claimed to safeguard Hong Kong’s freedom and to never give up its sovereignty to China, etc. The majority of Hong Kong citizens were “united" and had little tolerance for disagreements.

What was so distinguishable about the protests was that they all happened in a scheduled and organized manner. Most of the citizens, except for those who had to go to work, participated in the demonstration under the so-called ideal to protect Hong Kong’s justice and freedom. Just thinking about their uniform practices makes me shudder.

The masks worn by the protesters are a great example. When I was at the demonstration sites, young protesters frequently handed me masks, and said the masks would minimize the harm of possible attacks of tear gas shells when asked what the usage of the masks was.

Actually, at the very beginning of the protest, masks were worn by only a very small number of people, mostly those on the front line.

However, there was constant news in the foreign media and social platforms that the protesters needed to wear masks, otherwise they could be recognized and retaliated by the Communist Party of China. Because of this, more and more people started wearing masks, which became a symbol of “the suppression from the authoritarian” in the eyes of foreign media.

The marginal group of Hong Kong “justice"

The protesters base themselves on the bridge leading to the Legislative Council Building and the square to the west of the building. After the carnivals—I chose the word deliberately, most of the participants returned to their daily lives and somehow disappeared in a magical way. Then I wondered, is this really Hong Kong?

The immigrants from mainland China to Hong Kong are regarded as the marginal group of the Hong Kong “justice".

My ex-fiancée M and my assistant S both come from the rural areas in the mainland and bear a hate for Hong Kong, because the Hong Kong people look down on the mainlanders, especially those from rural areas.

I realized it from my personal experiences. When I was at a coffee shop in an exclusive residential area in Hong Kong, I thanked a waiter who offered me water in Chinese. Sitting in the next table was a Japanese woman who lived in Hong Kong. She reminded me, “You are Japanese, right? It’s better for you not to say 'thank you' in mandarin because you’ll have troubles if taken as a Chinese.”

Asymmetry between the mainland and Hong Kong

I recently asked M and S about their opinions on the Hong Kong protest. Both of them said, "Hong Kong is a part of China. Isn’t it only a matter of course that the Chinese law applies to the city?"

To put it in a negative way, the “freedom” safeguarded by the Hong Kong people and unseen in mainland China is indeed “vested interests” the city gained in the colonial times.

Before Hong Kong returned to China, the Hong Kong people were regarded as the "servants" of the British. They were once the weak despised by their European and American "masters".

However, after the city returned, these people began to despise the mainlanders and the people from other Asian countries in the same way their European and American "masters" did.

Maybe the disgust I felt in Hong Kong derives from here.

After Hong Kong returned to China, it became more convenient to travel between the mainland and Hong Kong. As far as I know, it was the Hong Kong people who crossed the border between the mainland and Hong Kong most of the time.

The ordinary people in Hong Kong believe that after Hong Kong’s return to China, the policies of the Communist Party of China (CPC) have constantly eroded the city. In fact, we might well say that it was Hong Kong’s capitalist society that has gradually “invaded” the mainland.

Distortion of justice

Hong Kong citizens are elites and rich people in the eyes of the majority of mainland people. Hong Kong did enjoy a lot of favorable treatment after its return to China.

Many demonstrators shouted loudly at the Hong Kong police, yelling “don’t kill student demonstrators”, but what did the police actually do? In Japan, there are people who hate human rights campaigns and demonstrations and believe that the Japanese government, police and laws represent absolute justice. When extreme human rights campaigns and demonstrations break out, they would shout slogans in support of police and justice, saying that “demonstrators are traitors, and the police shouldn’t be soft on traitors” and “the Japanese judicial authorities are too moderate. They should severely punish the criminals”. In contrast to Japan, the Hong Kong demonstrators chanted “police cannot be forgiven” “guard human rights” and “the extradition bill is evil.” (I was on the spot and tried to take pictures of the demonstrators, but was maliciously obstructed.)

The Hong Kong residents assume that the CPC is the ringleader who intends to deprive Hong Kong of freedom, and the Hong Kong police are CPC’s running dogs.

However, as far as I know, the Hong Kong police only moved on the protests when the demonstrators besieged and vandalized the Legislative Council building on June 12 and July 1. I was not on the scene when the two riots took place, but I saw the videos. The police did fire tear gas toward the crowd and several demonstrators were injured.

The first priority for the Hong Kong police is to ensure the safety of citizens. The traffic was still running smoothly after the riot on June 12 broke out, but the students jaywalked in the streets and tried to incite more people to join the protest. Under such circumstances, it behooves the police to take action no matter in China, Japan or Hong Kong. Firing tear gas is already the lightest response. Demonstrators smashing into the Legislative Council on July 1 can be regarded as a terrorist act.

The demonstration leaders didn’t mean to solve the problem through dialogue and consultations at all, but attempted to win sympathy from the world by blaming the “wicked” in the name of justice. I can see it at the scene that Hong Kong demonstrators generally believe that Japanese are on the same side with them. They treated Japanese journalists in an unusually mild manner, saying to every Japanese journalist things like “thank you for meeting with us for an interview. My friends were killed here by the police yesterday. Please make sure that you will let the Japanese public know this.” However, so far, there has been no evidence that the Hong Kong police have killed any demonstrator. So, I’m wondering how many of their friends were “killed”?

They broke my camera lens

On July 1, the demonstrators gathered outside the Legislative Council complex again. I went to take some photos of the demonstrators on the spot, and felt the change of their attitude.

Media reported that day that the student demonstrators, who had been holding peaceful demonstrations without riots and protests, broke into and vandalized property in the legislative council building.

Before that, the Hong Kong police were described as slaughterers of the demonstrators. But the fact is that there has been no source or story supporting such a report, which made many foreign media quite confused.

Out of fear of foreign media, perhaps, demonstrators, rather than the government, started to limit interviews with foreign media. Hong Kong used to welcome all types of news activities, but after the incident, demonstrators prohibited foreign media from taking pictures or videos of them, saying that “this is obviously a peaceful demonstration. We’ll be troubled if the foreign media misinterpret it as riot”, “you are not allowed to take photos that handicap students,” and “only those media approved by us can take pictures”.

I raised my camera several times, but was forced to delete the photos at the request of ordinary citizens. They even crowded around me, took my camera away and damaged the lens. They attempted to tell the world they are victims. But frankly speaking, I felt my life was under threat in Hong Kong.

Finally, I was saved by a US freelance journalist. He told me that originally he intended to take some pictures and videos freely, but was halted by the citizens (as the pictures and videos we took were not what they have assumed). And, the Hong Kong citizens didn’t behave overly offensively towards him because he was an American. “Freelance journalists need to report from a neutral perspective,” I said to him, expressing my thanks and left the scene.

I have no family in Japan. It’s nothing for me if anything untoward should happen. But, is it really okay?

Hong Kong has been involved in greater chaos since the white-clad men clashed with the demonstrators in late July. What’s behind the protests in the name of “justice” hailed by Hong Kong citizens? I think we should think deeper and have a prudent attitude to the current situation in Hong Kong.


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