January 09, 2006

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Hell is Korean protesters (Updated Jan 10th)

On Saturday I wondered past the Star Ferry at TST. A crowd had gathered around a tent, boldly declaring "We might have broken the law but we're Korean farmers so you should let us off". The impoverished farmers were snugly ensconced in their tent, with protective plastic sheeting, mobile phones, card games, heaters, jackets, sleeping bags and more. The local trade unionists helping out these "hunger strikers" had a collection box although it wasn't clear just how much it would take to make them all go away. Don't they need a licence to camp out on government property? A massive protest of 200 (although the organisers claiming it was 150,000) demanding the government and police retrospectively change the law and allow the 14 suspects to go home. The unlinkable SCMP reports another 1,000 Korean farmers are threatening to return to Hong Kong to demand their release. It makes one wonder who looks after their farrms while they do all this protesting, and how can allegedly impoverished farmers afford all this travel?

A small introduction. Hong Kong's law is based on the English system of common law. Commonly people that are arrested are offered bail, where they pay a surety while the case is being prepared to ensure they don't skip the country. The law is applied by courts without influence, fear or favour (at least, in theory). Once arrested the police present a court with the cicumstances and evidence to date, the court decides if there is a case to answer and if so may or may not offer bail until the full trial, scheduled at some later date. That's the system.

Letting these 14 suspects leave Hong Kong would virtually ensure they were never prosecuted. Their chances of returning to Hong Kong are about as remote as my chances of winning the Chinese New Year Mark 6 jackpot. Intimidation and protest may work elsewhere, but welcome to the rule of law. If you don't like it, don't come and protest here. We'd all be better off.

Other reading

ESWN on local press reaction and the dilemma facing HK authorities.
FH isn't impressed by Elizabeth Tang's hunger strike plans.

Update Jan 10th

I noticed 23 people signed a petition asking Hong Kong's government to subvert the rule of law. The government dismissed the request out of hand, noting that it didn't come from the State Council in Beijnig so it didn't count.


To take his mind off it, Odell asks me a simple but profound question. “Koreans… What the fuck?” I give him the country’s history in a nutshell. First, it was repeatedly invaded by the Japanese, then it was repeatedly invaded by the Mongols, then it was repeatedly invaded by the Chinese, then it was repeatedly invaded by the Manchus, then it got one big, maybe-they’ll-get-the-message-this-time invasion from the Japanese again, and in 1950 it invaded itself. This experience, I explain, has made these people the proud and noble mouth-frothing xenophobes we all know and love today, threatening to send hordes of vicious peasant warriors to Hong Kong if our Government does not honour their birthright as sons of the Hermit Kingdom, namely immunity from laws against assaulting policewomen with bamboo poles. Odell thinks about it. “Maybe it’s the other way around,” he suggests. “Maybe they kept on getting invaded because they’re assholes.”

posted by Simon on 01.09.06 at 10:27 AM in the WTO category.


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You're so right. I don't see what's so hard to understand. They broke the law, and they got thrown in jail, now their grand plan to get off is to break the same law again? And the best part, is people feed bogus explanations like this one:
"Surely, these individuals must have had reason to take action.
How can arm-chair spectators like ourselves ever understand the plight of the subaltern without having experienced what they have experienced?"
There are laws in Korea right? Sometimes I have to wonder... The Korean government is asking for special pardons because, "hey their Korean, let them go" (huh?!!? that makes no sense!) and now hanryuu stars are saying "the same globalization that made us stars is evil when it means anything other then bring money to Korea... let them go!" (what?! are you serious?) I wonder what John Stewart has to say about all of this.....

posted by: Darin ten Bruggencate on 01.09.06 at 11:02 AM [permalink]

You missed the bit at the bottom of that SCMP article where Ms. Tang said she would go on a hungerrstrike until Wednesday. A two day hungerstrike. That will change the world. (Tried to trackback to this when I updated it to add a link at the bottom but it did not work for some reason)

posted by: Flagrant on 01.09.06 at 11:31 AM [permalink]

And thatsame Elizabeth Tang almost broke into tears speaking about ''the injustice'' against the Koreans.

How does she manage to score such high approval ratings from Hong Kong people?

posted by: d on 01.09.06 at 11:37 AM [permalink]

Yes indeed Doug, she is a piece of work.

posted by: Flagrant on 01.09.06 at 11:52 AM [permalink]

And here's more lunacy, just in case you missed it:

Korean Wave stars ask for leniency for hunger-striking Korean rioters in Hong Kong

KCTU threatens Hong Kong with 1,000-man protest team if rioters not released

I make none of this up.

posted by: The Marmot on 01.09.06 at 03:11 PM [permalink]

When Elizabeth and her Korean friends start their next hunger strike I'm heading down to XTC ice cream, buying a huge tub of vanilla and another of chocolate, and sit in front of the tent eating the stuff.

Anyone with me?

posted by: Simon on 01.09.06 at 03:35 PM [permalink]

Mmmmm, XTC, yum. Count me in. But wouldn't a huge kimchi hotpot work better?

posted by: spacehunt on 01.09.06 at 04:00 PM [permalink]

This is all a show, folks! Please go h ome, there is nothing to see here!

Now, if we could get some hunger strikers to stop the tamar plan, that would be cool. i might even join them.

posted by: d on 01.09.06 at 04:06 PM [permalink]

How about a hunger strike against hunger strikes? Or perhaps a group of people doing a hunger strike in protest to the hunger-striking Koreans? hehehe. "I wont eat until they're back in jail where they belong".. or something like that.

posted by: Darin ten Bruggencate on 01.09.06 at 05:08 PM [permalink]

Simon, better then ice cream, McDonalds. It's the official symbol of evil globalization.

posted by: Darin ten Bruggencate on 01.09.06 at 05:10 PM [permalink]

Right, that's settled. McD's followed by XTC in front of the tent. When do they start? Let's organise a time.

posted by: Simon on 01.09.06 at 05:18 PM [permalink]

Can I have KFC?

posted by: Flagrant on 01.09.06 at 05:24 PM [permalink]

I'll go to the travel agent tomorrow and look for a ticket :) hehe.
Flagrant: only if you bring a live chicken along too.. I don't know why, but it just seems fitting :)

posted by: Darin ten Bruggencate on 01.09.06 at 05:50 PM [permalink]

I'll roast it alive in a dustbin and have it on a bowl of rice imported from Thailand.

posted by: flagrent on 01.09.06 at 10:48 PM [permalink]

I'll be with you guys in spirit as you eat Big Macs (or available 24-hour Egg McMuffins - my favorite) in front of their faces. Just for some background, protestors here in Korea routinely get away with violence directed at the poor, hapless and conscripted riot police. It's so bad that the cops' parents are starting to protest the abuse their kids are regularly subject to. You can molotov them, whack them with large poles, even pelt them with priceless university rock collections (Yonsei circa 1996), and YOU WON'T GO TO JAIL. Please teach these scum that a civilized nation (autonomous area?) doesn't tolerate their actions.

posted by: Wedge on 01.10.06 at 12:21 PM [permalink]

I still dont understand why some HK ppl would help those farmers. As if we cared about their rice problem... and messing up with the police is no use, they dont have the power to change your already miserable fate. Glad that a bunch of em have been arrested! Sue em!!

- Expressing xtreme hate cause i cancel'd my hot date which was a dinner over at Victoria Peak.

posted by: James on 01.11.06 at 05:57 PM [permalink]

Wow that totally cut centuries of Korean history down to size. BURN.

Although I think the order is China-Mongols-Japan-Manchus-Japan again. But the point is still the same.

I haven't read something so politically incorrect for a long time. Haven't laughed that hard for a while too.

posted by: Kelvin on 01.13.06 at 01:03 PM [permalink]

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