Monday, March 07, 2011

Trouble in Hong Kong

Hong Kong has never seemed that eventful for me. There is a march or a demonstration every weekend, but I'm either in bed asleep, or tucked away on one of the outer islands, or in another country, so I don't notice. In the week there is the posse of shouting ladies outside the banks, but they've metamorphosed for me from angry protestors to a constant cultural fixture, and the banks seem of a similar mindset, which renders all that shouting ineffective.

But then I go away for a week, and the government declares a budget which basically consisted of "everything's fine, we're not going to do much this year", greeted with hoots of derision and complaints that the SAR is sitting on a big pile of money and not using any of it to benefit the poor and the needy of the country.

In response, they decided they'd give 6,000 Hong Kong dollars to every permanent residence, but instead of this being greeted as an act of wonderful generosity, it was taken more as a sign of the unimaginative government failing to engage with any of the problems of Hong Kong, like people having to live in cage flats, or all the pollution, or people going mad with choppers.

If you're going to try to bribe the populace, maybe you shouldn't be quite so obvious.

I was annoyed because I'm four years short of being a permanent resident, but I'm not sure that was what motivated everyone else to protest. It's nice to think hundreds of locals would march on Central to demand I got a free hand-out too, but I think they were more serious than that.

The police certainly took it seriously, and when they had to face an angry mob of protestors/some people who had refused to stand up and move along they pepper sprayed them. Which seems a little over the top.

Perhaps they were spooked by the recent overthrow of the regimes in Egypt and Tunisia. Or maybe they got "pep rally" and "pepper" confused. I don't know. You can't go round blaming everything on a poor command of the English language.

When the South China Morning Post is running a picture of a policeman falling over a step ladder and lying on the floor looking like he's thinking about ringing up his union rep to make a claim for health and safety, you begin to suspect this wasn't the most violent crowd that ever needed to be subdued.

But what would I know? I come from a country where occasionally the police will thwack you with a cosh if you happen to walk past...


Minnie Bus said...

This raises many important questions like, what is a 'cosh'?

Mr Cushtie said...

Because British police don't usually carry guns, they're equipped with a truncheon, which is like somebody had sawn up a broom handle and then given foot-long pieces to every constable. (I have to thank Adam Roberts and New Model Army for that simile).

Mr Cushtie said...

... oh, and a cosh is a synonym for a truncheon, and possibly onomatopoeic for those situations when it's bashed on somebody's head:

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