Thursday, September 10, 2009

Crying Aiya! at Ah-Yeh

By Chip Tsao | published Sep 10, 2009

Three Hong Kong TV journalists covering the massive protests in Urumqi claim to have been handcuffed, detained and beaten up by armed Chinese police. The incident has set a few democrats abuzz with shock and dismay. The SAR government has expressed “concern” and offered a meek demand to “follow it up” with Beijing. The TV stations, as their employers, have said nothing, apparently in fear of provoking Beijing by daring to defend their staff.

But if you look at the incident from a different angle, is there any point to being mawkish about China’s peculiar act of teaching Hong Kong a lesson about the freedom of the press? For the past year, Hong Kong government officials and the local media have been privately calling Beijing by the nickname “Ah Yeh,” meaning “grand-dad,” and second-guessing what Ah Yeh intends behind his inscrutable political movies—for example, in the early retirement of Chief Justice Andrew Li. Old grand-dad has been feeding us meat, water and tourism revenue for years. We have a good time at the seafood restaurants, karaoke bars and massage parlors scattered around the Pearl River Delta during the weekends. And as legislators and government officials call for greater economic integration with Guangdong, a kind of social reunion by means of food, sex, and shopping is taking place between mainlanders and Hongkongers. Indeed, we are preparing for a future without the aid of the geographical, social and cultural borders separating the New Territories from Shenzhen.

Hong Kong has changed the British red of its post boxes to a more politically correct green. Hong Kong’s police uniforms are now a pleasant blue, in line with the public security officers in Beijing and Shanghai. The Hong Kong SAR government talks a lot about “progressive development” and “harmony,” political jargon widely used in the editorials of the People’s Daily. Hong Kong’s TV news programs have been patriotically self-censoring by quietly deleting scenes of the Dalai Lama.

If old grand-dad has been looking after us and keeping us happy, it would be un-Confucian of us to ask why he has given our reporters a few beatings. And we already know what these smacks were for—intruding into the wrong place at the wrong time with a video camera that could embarrass “Ah Yeh” on the eve of his 60th anniversary banquet. We are one family. There is no point to justify our crimes against filial piety in the name of western-style “freedom of the press.” The Democrats staged an angry protest over this matter led by Albert Ho last week, who also staged an anti-colonial protest in 1982 against Margaret Thatcher and her efforts to renew Hong Kong’s lease to Britain. It’s been a quarter of century. Even Daniel Radcliffe hasn’t taken that much time to grow up to contemplate the implications of his role as Harry Potter. When will Hong Kong be more mature?

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