HKCT Review 2020: October to December 2020
With the 79th Chinese National Day coming on 1 October 2020, almost nobody in Hong Kong under 30 identifies themselves as “Chinese”. According to HKPORI’s final tracking survey results on Hong Kong people’s ethnic identity, rift widens between Chinese and Hong Kong identities and national pride plunges to one in four. All these indicators are at their record lows since the handover and the reasons are nothing more than open secrets. Pieces over pieces of news have been breaking Hongkongers’ hearts.
19yo Tony Chung - Second Person Charged under Hong Kong's National Security Law
On 29 Oct, Tony Chung, a former leader of pro-independence group Studentlocalism, was denied bail after appearing in West Kowloon Magistrates' Court charged with secession, money laundering and conspiracy to publish seditious material. The teenager is accused of organising, planning, committing or participating in acts with other people with a view to committing secession between 1 July 2020 and 27 October 2020 – the day of his arrest. (https://www.facebook.com/hkcolumn/posts/2790388994511815)
External Voting/Out-of-Hong Kong voting
The pro-Beijing camp has always wanted Hongkongers on the Mainland to cast votes because they are sure these voters will all be their supporters. By doing so they can effectively win pan-democrats by lengths. The issue of external voting was mentioned on in the Electoral Affairs Commission's (EAC) Report on the 2020 LegCo General Election released on 12 Oct. In response to the concerns from the members of the public (https://www.facebook.com/hkcolumn/posts/2789876991229682), CE responded that the idea of external voting was put forward by the Hong Kong SAR Government based on the aspirations of Hong Kong people living and working on the Mainland conveyed over the years.
Cathay Pacific’s Massive Lay-off; Cathay Dragon Slayed
COVID-19 means people are grounded and countries are not going to have that many flights everywhere. Unlike SARS, which lasted for less than half a year, COVID-19 is still affecting us as you read. The aviation industry, among others, bears the brunt in suffering losses, and redundancy is inevitable. Cathay Pacific on 21 October announced the lay-off of 5,900 actual positions across the entire Group, which accounts for around 17% of its established headcount. This means some 5,300 Hong Kong-based employees will be fired and about 600 employees based outside of Hong Kong also possibly being affected subject to local regulatory requirements. In view of the devastating news, Eaton HK published a statement to support staff members being affected. (https://www.facebook.com/hkcolumn/posts/2785570278327020)
All Civil Servants to Take Oath / Sign Declaration
The Civil Service Bureau (CSB) issued a circular to all departments on 12 Oct requiring all civil servants joining the HKSAR Government on or after 1 July 2020 to take an oath or make a declaration that they will uphold the Basic Law, bear allegiance to the HKSAR and be responsible to the HKSAR Government, as one of the conditions for appointment. From July to October 2020, there were a total of about 2 980 civil servants who joined the HKSAR Government and duly made the declaration. (https://www.facebook.com/hkcolumn/posts/2820848721465842) They come from around 140 grades. Around 180,000 civil servants will soon be required to take an oath of allegiance to the Basic Law and the SAR (https://www.facebook.com/hkcolumn/posts/2830912547126126), and they will be given a month to do so.
The controversy of letting some lawmakers deem ineligible to run in the original LegCo election 2020 stay in the extended LegCo term dragged on and perplexed some. Beijing wanted to give these pan-dem lawmakers the benefit of doubt but it turns out they remain "disobedient" in LegCo. In November, the four disqualifications were confirmed after the National People's Congress Standing Committee announced a list of reasons why a lawmaker should be stripped of their seats, including asking external forces to interfere in Hong Kong's affairs or refusing to accept China's sovereignty over the territory. One of the 4 disqualified lawmaker Dennis Kwok said he had no regrets. (https://www.facebook.com/hkcolumn/posts/2802739149943466) In response to the disqualifications, 15 pan-democratic lawmakers submitted to LegCo Secretariat their resignation letters. (https://www.facebook.com/hkcolumn/posts/2804070693143645)
Death of 22yo HKUST student Alex Chow Tsz-lok #AlexChowInquest
22yo HKUST student Alex Chow Tsz-lok who fell into a coma after falling from a height at a parking lot during a clash in Tseung Kwan O succumbed to his injuries and died on 8 Nov 2019. (https://www.facebook.com/hkcolumn/posts/2799868830230498)
In the early hours of 4 Nov, protesters had blocked roads and thrown objects at the police in Tseung Kwan O. The police launched tear gas to disperse the crowd, and Chow had fallen from a height at Sheung Tak Car Park during the clash. The police subsequently admitted that when Chow fell from a height, the riot police had launched tear gas outside the carpark, but whether that was related to the fall, the police didn’t exclude any possibilities. The death inquest of Alex has been carried out for over 20 days and the giving of testimony was expected to be completed on 4 Jan 2021. After that, case would start to be summed up in two days. For more details exposed during the inquest, please read this.
CUHK Reported Students' Protest in Campus to Police
Over 100 graduating students rallied, chanted slogans and raised flags at the campus of the Chinese University on 19 Nov, the day of graduation ceremony. They displayed flags that read “Hong Kong independence, the only way out” and “Reclaim Hong Kong, the revolution of our times,” sprayed graffiti of the slogans and sang the protest anthem Glory to Hong Kong. (https://www.facebook.com/hkcolumn/posts/2810560219161359) The CUHK filed reports to Police. Around a dozen police officers entered Chinese University's campus on the next day. (https://www.facebook.com/hkcolumn/posts/2811488772401837) Several student unions in CUHK condemned the university reporting it to the police (xxx).
CFA: Requiring Male Inmates to Cut Hair Breaches Sex Discrimination Ordinance
While some may think being jailed means one should be deprived of all freedom and dignity, some may not think so. Leung Kwok-hung, former lawmaker known as Long Hair, won the final appeal. Court of Final Appeal rules that requiring male inmates to cut hair breaches Sex Discrimination Ordinance. (https://www.facebook.com/hkcolumn/posts/2816692275214820) After losing the court battle to ‘Long Hair’, Hong Kong’s prisons considered shearing locks of female inmates in name of equality, SCMP said. (https://www.facebook.com/hkcolumn/posts/2820775728139808)
Pro-democracy activists Joshua Wong, Agnes Chow and Ivan Lam were remanded in custody on 23 Nov after pleading guilty to charges related to a major protest outside police headquarters last year. (https://www.facebook.com/hkcolumn/posts/2813527595531288) On 2 Dec, the prison sentences handed down to the trio. (https://www.facebook.com/hkcolumn/posts/2821155381435176) Agnes Chow received her first prison sentence of a 10-month term and spent her 24th birthday behind bars. Japanese politicians and government expressed concerns over jailing Agnes Chow (https://www.facebook.com/hkcolumn/posts/2827542904129757; https://www.facebook.com/hkcolumn/posts/2822355764648471). On the last day of the year, Agnes Chow was reported re-classified as a Category A inmate, same level with murderers, and moved to a top security prison (https://www.facebook.com/hkcolumn/posts/2842421919308522).
12 detainees in Shenzhen
The group of 12 was captured by Chinese coastguards on 23 Aug while trying to flee to Taiwan on a speedboat. Most of them were facing criminal charges in Hong Kong for offences linked to last year’s anti-extradition bill protests. After being detained for over three months, 10 of the 12 were brought up to Yantian District People's Court in Shenzhen for trial. Consulate staff from the US, the UK, Canada, Portugal and the Netherlands waited for about 2 hours but they were not allowed to enter, and so they left. The Yantian Court later on the same day uploaded that the court has listened to the procuratorate's opinion and the defence side's views. The court will choose a date to announce the verdict. (https://www.facebook.com/hkcolumn/posts/2840392502844797) On 30 Dec, after the verdict was made, the state-run media soon commented the case showed Mainland Judiciary's prudence and professionalism. (https://www.facebook.com/hkcolumn/posts/2841787936038587) Yet, the transparency of the case was clearly “open”. The response of 12 Hongkongers’ Families to “Judgment” is here: (https://www.facebook.com/hkcolumn/posts/2841809446036436)
Exodus of Hongkongers
Being hunted by Hong Kong law enforcer using various tools including National Security Law and facing lots of other charges, some Hong Kongers opted to flee their home. To name a few, Ted Hui (https://www.facebook.com/hkcolumn/posts/2822059874678060), Nathan Law (https://www.facebook.com/hkcolumn/posts/2813922315491816) and Baggio Leung (https://www.facebook.com/hkcolumn/posts/2837524823131565), 3 ex-lawmakers left for different places for their safety. Hui arranged his family to leave too, while the 2 other politicians have declared "severing ties with their families" in hope not to burden their loved ones.
A lot of Hongkongers could have a choice to choose to emigrate elsewhere while some were forced to exile themselves. Aurora, Tsang Chi-kin's girlfriend, was one of them. (https://www.facebook.com/hkcolumn/posts/2829790727238308) Tsang Chi-kin, the first protester shot by police said he would skip court and went on the run. (https://www.facebook.com/hkcolumn/posts/2835816096635771)
Top Court Rules in Favour of the Administration over the Anti-mask Law
The administration invoked emergency law and announced a ban on masks at all protests including authorized ones on 4 Oct last year. Last Nov, the anti-mask regulation was ruled unconstitutional. The ruling was partially overturned this year in April following an appeal from the HKSAR government. On 21 Dec, a 5-judge panel (including Lord Hoffmann) at the Court of Final Appeal ruled that the ban on face masks at unauthorised protests and rallies was proportionate and no more than reasonably necessary to prevent violence. (https://www.facebook.com/hkcolumn/posts/2834989970051717)
US’ Sanctions on Chinese and Hong Kong Officials
After 11 Hong Kong officials were sanctioned (https://www.facebook.com/hkcolumn/posts/2718529815031067), the US on 7 Dec imposed sanctions on 14 senior Chinese officials as it vowed there would be a price to pay for Beijing’s growing clampdown in Hong Kong. (https://www.facebook.com/hkcolumn/posts/2825294347687946)
Bishop Hill Service Reservoir
Some residents who often go to Bishop Hill discovered that the spectacular waterworks project was about to be destroyed by Water Supplies Department. Not until some stopping the bulldozers with their bodies, the construction workers did not stop their work. Photos of the inside of the service reservoir made some glad as the city, under waves of crackdown, has lacked some positive news, while some remain pessimistic as the government often ignores voices of the public. With inspections, WSD decided to stop the work and let Antiquities Advisory Board decide its grade.
Legal Sector & Judiciary