HK students excite disaffection against Her Majesty, risk Beijing’s ire

The start of the academic year heralds a flurry of Hong Kong independence posters on campuses – and a patriotic backlash from Mainland students. University administrations struggle to come up with a cohesive stance. They are, of course, dedicated to freedom of thought and expression. But they are also, inevitably, keen on shoe-shining the government that subsidizes them, and no doubt politically-connected bodies that allocate research funding.

When pushed, they follow local officials’ line that pro-independence talk ‘goes against’ the Basic Law. This sounds scary if you think ‘goes against’ means ‘breaks’. But of course it doesn’t – it means ‘disagrees with’. There’s no law against that. Not yet, anyway. The local officials use this ambiguous type of phrase because they cannot ‘go against’ their own masters in Beijing, who have previously declared splittism forbidden.

And then along comes Ronny Tong, the lawyer and former pro-democrat legislator who has turned into a pro-Beijing semi-lackey. (He considers himself a middle-of-the-road ultra-moderate able to look both sides in the face equally. At best, this is a quaint conceit: the Chinese Communist Party divides the world into two factions: obedient loyalists and the enemy; it doesn’t do ‘middle-of-the-road’. At worst – well, there have long been scurrilous murmurs hinting that he is vulnerable to persuasion.)

So Ronny suggests that while the use of particular words may not be illegal, the action of ‘publishing with seditious intent’ may infringe Section 9 of the Crimes Ordinance. Apparently, under this law (which presumably dates back to 1580 or something) it is illegal to do things like…

“…bring into hatred or contempt or to excite disaffection against the person of Her Majesty…”

Although, in the spirit of jolly British fair play, you are in the clear if you intend…

“…to show that Her Majesty has been misled or mistaken in any of Her measures…”

…(as if!) among other loopholes. The maximum penalty is to be burned at the stake while having your entrails drawn and fed to pigs. (The link says 1997 – maybe they’ve updated this thing?)

Ronny is no doubt trying to be helpful – though I’m not sure to whom. A sedition trial of Hong Kong kids is the last thing the city’s tormented leaders need.

I declare the weekend open, after reading of the GoGoVan non-tycoon-class success story, with a chicken-and-egg conundrum: Does Hong Kong’s economic structure cause its political structure, or does the political structure cause the economic structure?

 

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9 Responses to HK students excite disaffection against Her Majesty, risk Beijing’s ire

  1. Headache says:

    Those provisions of the Crimes Ordinance are authentically 1938. The “replaced” and “added” dates are the relevant ones. The 1997 date just indicates when this electronic version was consolidated.

    Many of HK’s laws remain based on British statutes which were repealed and replaced in England eons ago, hence the charmingly enduring and subversive mentions of the Governor and Her Maj.

    Interpretation and General Clauses Ordinance schedule 8 clarifies that these terms are to be read with their updated meaning, so in this context HM means the relevant organs of the Central Govt.

  2. Real Fax Paper says:

    @Headache

    The relevant organs of the Central Govt? I love it when you talk dirty.

  3. Headache says:

    @RFP

    AKA the arsehole in question: could be anyone from Zhang Xiaoming to Xi Dada himself.

  4. Nina Simone says:

    You sure do like to shake dose grits.

    But I says it’s high time you rattled your dags, honey.

    Honkies just don’t belong here no more.

    Later.

  5. Knownot says:

    For the weekend.

    The government appoints a Land Commission,
    Or whatever. We know what it will say.
    RTHK ends the transmission
    Of World Service during the day.
    One damn thing after another,
    Or so I feel.
    And the Wheel —

    Violent young activists, say the Court,
    Will make civil society fail.
    The original sentences were too short.
    Put them in jail.
    The cell doors are bolted,
    The shutters have dropped.
    And the Wheel stopped —

    The Chinese flag and song
    Are symbols of the nation;
    And obedient schools in Hong Kong
    Will spread patriotic education.
    I look at the children, and wonder:
    What will they be learning?
    And the Wheel stopped turning.

  6. Gromit says:

    Beijing probably views Ronny Tong as being in the ‘useful idiot’ category, and as such, liable to be spat out as soon as he is perceived to be of no further use.

  7. Revolution says:

    I read that Mainland students protesting the posters at CUHK have been putting up their own posters saying “No referendum, no vote? How dare you represent all CUHK students?”

    Someone should ask them if they feel the same way about the Communist Party. I don’t recall any referendum or vote for them either.

  8. Red Dragon says:

    As ever, a very good cotribution, Knownot. Thank you.

    Ronny Tong is worthy of nothing but our sympathy. A prime example of a sad, irrelevant old bugger trying, but failing, to come to terms with the passing of the colonial regime under which he thrived, and its replacement by the ruthless red regime which he dare not challenge. He is no more than a preposterous bouffant eunuch – very much the sort of cove whom the criminals in Zhongnanhai will find a use for, until they don’t. Read up on Jack “The Hat” McVitie, Ronny. He experienced greater tonsorial challenges than you (hence the hat), but your end will probably be as sticky as his.

    Nice to see that the “mainlandisation” of Hong Kong’s tertiary campuses is all going according to plan. Shouldn’t be too much longer before “The East is Red” is tannoyed all over the rolling hills of Chinese U. God only knows what the righteous, hand-wringing Christians of Chung Chi College will make of that as they wend their pious way to Friday chapel. Probably not a lot, to be honest. They’ll just abandon their (already elastic) principles, trouser their pensions, extract their “foreign” passports from their floor safes, and bugger off to Vancouver, Queensland or Esher (“Carrie Lam lives just down the road, you know”) and leave Hong Kong and the “Glorious Motherland” to their increasingly entwined fates.

    And you know what? I couldn’t give a damn. Unless, of course, l lived in Esher.

  9. Guest says:

    Good point, Revolution.

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