If you find yourself in a basement, stop digging

The new Justice Secretary Teresa Cheng ‘Otto grotto’ illegal structure quagmire mess mayhem disaster continues to unfold most entertainingly.

The government says it will allow Cheng to finish some outstanding arbitration cases from her private practice. Apparently this is a practical alternative to abandoning the work (and makes us wonder how much warning she had of her appointment). But it raises questions about conflict of interest – not to say unmanageable workloads for the famously ‘busy’ lawyer.

The minor but not excessively fringe Labour Party report Cheng to the Police for not mentioning her home’s illegal structures in mortgage documentation.

And media sleuths find that not only was Cheng a member of a buildings enforcement Appeals Panel, but she (co-) wrote the definitive, gripping, classic book on construction law in Hong Kong, featuring among other things a brusque dismissal of scumbags who claim ignorance of illegal structures in their homes (quite right too).

Chief Executive Carrie Lam asks for more tolerance for Cheng. Carrie is also overseeing vindictive law-stretching persecution of dissenting lawmakers, academics, teenagers and other opponents in her role as figurehead for creeping Communist Party authoritarianism – so she is pushing her luck here.

The Communist Party, having chosen Teresa Cheng for her ideological dependability, will not allow the Hong Kong authorities to ditch her. To them, obedience of the law is irrelevant as a qualification for high office, and the main problem here is an unruly press that is allowed to broadcast negative and subversive information. And spurning local public opinion is a matter of sovereignty. The only thing that might persuade them is if they realize how much this whole mess is a gift to the pro-democrats and other critics.

A sign of the times: BNO passports (British-issued non-citizens’ travel documents of limited practical use) are now a status symbol among authentic 100% Hongkongers.

And a reminder of how far Beijing’s brainwashing has to go on this side of the border: a Chinese Communist Party discussion on how and why to delete, fabricate or otherwise rewrite history (the juicy extracts are here). [Warning/update – allegedly fake news!]

I declare the weekend open with some ideal viewing for a cold-afternoon: 1950s Alfred Hitchcock light comedy The Trouble With Harry – not merely quite funny, but surprisingly tasteless.



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11 Responses to If you find yourself in a basement, stop digging

  1. Des Espoir says:

    Going back to Teresa’s 2016 burglary… Surely, anyone who has $3million lying around their house in cash is either trying to conceal where the money came from, or has it ready to pay to someone, and does not want evidence of where the money came from… Surely a case for ICAC..??

  2. mjrelje says:

    What has happened to the ‘juicy extracts’ link? The ‘rewrite history’ CDT piece is quite simply unfuckingbelievable. I hope the juicy extracts of it can be put back up soon.
    My thoughts totally on the burglary Des Espoir. Who leaves 3mil just conveniently lying around the house? Her pants are on red fire.

  3. Big Al says:

    Maybe she has just been very frugal with the housekeeping money given to her by Otto?

  4. Sim says:

    Carrie declared her candidacy for the CE in January 2017. About two and a half weeks before that, Teresa was married to Otto Poon in a ceremony officiated by Elsie Leung and witnessed by Frank Chan, who is now the Housing Secretary. Was there any relationship between these two events? Maybe Carrie had already picked Teresa as the Secretary for Justice before announcing her candidacy, and asked her to sort out her relationship with Otto as soon as possible. It was just that Beijing wanted Rimsky Yuen to stay on for a little while to finish up the joint checkpoint arrangement that Teresa could not join Carrie’s administration in July 2017.

  5. Josef Fritzl says:

    “…not merely quite funny, but surprisingly tasteless.”

    How apposite for our story today.

  6. Old Newcomer says:

    The $3 million was described as “cash and valuables”, probably indicating that some of the hoard consisted of jewellery. Still, who keeps that much jewellery at home without putting it in a safe? Or did the burglars break open the safe?

  7. Knownot says:

    I have tried to wrote a fair précis of Ronny Tong’s Letter to Hong Kong,
    Radio 3 last Sunday, 7 January.

    A Letter to Hong Kong
    and A Reply

    Article 18. Why is it there? Is it meant to
    Stifle economic growth? Slow down travel?
    Clearly, it ensures: in Hong Kong as a whole
    Rights are safe; Chinese law does not apply.
    Co-location comes; in Hong Kong as a whole,
    As before, Chinese law will not apply.

    Furthermore: if Legco votes, and ‘deems’ a place
    Outside Hong Kong’s borders, there is a legal basis:
    Other articles in the Basic Law provide it.
    Weak, this argument may be, you are free to say so;
    But – you cannot say there is no legal basis.

    Common Law in Hong Kong; Civil Law in China.
    People may not understand: our legal system
    Changed. Above our Final Court, the Committee
    Stands. This is stated in the Basic Law.
    Proper steps were taken; the NPCSC
    Voted. It is not ‘mere say so’; it is law.

    Rhetoric, intemperance, intolerance
    Only deepen the distrust. Barristers,
    Bar Council, you should be alive to this.
    Do not lose a golden opportunity:
    Show Hong Kong the way to solve our legal problems.

    _ _ _ _ _

    I can’t reply forensically
    To what you say;
    Maybe I can answer
    In a layman’s way.

    To bring the two sides closer
    You made, in your own eyes,
    A change of heart,
    Honourable compromise.
    Hong Kong will merge with China,
    A historic trend;
    You are working honourably
    To that end.

    And yet, I can’t help seeing
    Too much effort, or strain,
    When you speak about
    This station and this train.
    You’ve said elsewhere: this railway
    Doesn’t make much sense,
    The cause of so much argument
    And such expense.

    But peacefully you make the case
    To everyone:
    We should make the best of it
    Now it’s done.
    You seek another middle way
    For Hong Kong’s sake;
    But all you do is give,
    And all they do is take.

    Giving part of a station
    May not break the law;
    But they will take a little extra,
    Or a lot more.
    The law is being bent,
    Everybody knows it.
    A lawyer should at least
    Stand up, speak out, oppose it.
    Honourable compromise
    Is oxymoron.
    Chinese law is not the place
    To build our law on.

  8. pie-chucker says:

    Looking forward to first day of opening of the whizzy train.

    How many grannies, with wheelie suitcases, will be co-opted with a free return ticket and a bun to make trips in the first week of operation?

    This thing has to be proven to be a roaring, packed to gills, success. Because the legality of the basement boys will soon dissipate as a done deal. And focus will move to economic viability.

  9. Din Gao says:

    Perhaps the Standing Committee will amend the Basic Law to state that all senior officials of the HK SAR Government should not have an IQ above 80 and are above the law. That would solve the problem?

  10. Joe Blow says:

    Another Arctic day in sunny Hong Kong. It’s on days like this when I ask myself why I am not living in tropical Manila, in a spanking new apartment with 3 beds/ 2 baths, access to the pool and maybe a servant or 2 to fetch me a Margarita when I feel like it. Yes, Margaritaville: you got that right, and all of that for the princely sum of 10 k HK$ a month.

    I am kicking myself right now.

  11. Donnie Almond says:

    Dissa morning I saw a HK tram ding-ding passing through my street advertising ‘Kaspersky’ anti-virus software. The Kaspersky ‘laboratory’ is of Russian origin. In fact, they are hand in glove with the Putin mafia-state. So much so, that the US government has advised all its departments and extensions not to use Kaspersky products because its software may ‘leak’ your secrets straight to the Kremlin, Not unlike the AliBaba Cloud. So, be smart, and avoid Kaspersky’s malware/ spyware.

    And speaking of Putin’s mafia state: the ‘Seafood Room ‘ restaurant in CWB, a fancy over priced joint in Jaffe Road, is owned by the Russian mafia. Maybe you don’t want to go there.

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