Thursday, 23 February 2017

Tsang Saga Isn't Over Yet

Kwok Cheuk-kin has filed a judicial review on Bill Wong and David Li
Former Hong Kong leader Donald Tsang Kam-yuen is now in Stanley Prison with his cohort Rafael Hui Si-yan. Perhaps Hui is giving Tsang some orientation and tips on how to survive prison life.

Tonight some friends told me Tsang was known to be stingy. Was he so miserly that he didn't want to pay for the renovations on his Shenzhen flat? Or was he greedy? The man was well paid as chief executive of Hong Kong AND has a pension of HK$80,000 a month.

Secretary for Justice Rimsky Yuen is named in the application
If your housing is already taken care of, surely that pension would be more than enough to spend... it's definitely more than most people's salaries in Hong Kong...

In any event, the saga over the trial is still not over.

A former civil servant who has a penchant for filing legal challenges against the government on behalf of the little guy has done so again today.

Kwok Cheuk-kin has filed a judicial review application, questioning why Wave Media's Bill Wong Cho-bau and BEA bank's David Li Kwok-po were let off lightly. Kwok accuses the Independent Commission Against Corruption and the Department of Justice of maladministration, as they failed to do justice to all relevant parties.

As well as ICAC chief Simon Peh for maladministration
In the application naming Secretary for Justice Rimsky Yuen Kwok-keung and ICAC chief Simon Peh Yun-lu the respondents, Kwok claims the commission and department should take action against Wong and Li, citing equality before the law according to the Basic Law.

We heard during the trial that Li evaded ICAC investigators for years and then gave up, believing he would not cooperate. As for Wong, why wasn't he called to testify?

Will the judicial review go ahead? In the benefit of public interest, it should.

Wednesday, 22 February 2017

Bow-tie Tsang Begins 20-Month Prison Term

Donald Tsang (in handcuffs) was escorted to court for sentencing today
Donald Tsang Yam-kuen heard his fate this morning and the judge handed him a 20-month sentence behind bars. Tsang is now the first knighted and highest-ranked official to be convicted for misconduct.

"Never in my judicial career have I seen a man fallen from so high," said Justice Andrew Chan Hing-wai. Tsang closed his eyes as he heard the sentence, while his wife Selina of almost 50 years began to cry in the public gallery.

The judge was originally going to sentence him to 30 months, but after receiving over 40 letters of mitigation from people like former Secretary for Administration Anson Chan Fong On-sang, pan-democrat Albert Ho Chun-yan, and chief executive hopefuls Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor and John Tsang Chun-wah, Justice Chan lowered Tsang's jail time to 20 months.

Tsang's wife Selina cried upon hearing the 20-month jail term
Justice Chan said Tsang had breached the trust placed in him by both the people of Hong Kong and the people of China.

The prosecution has already indicated it will retry the charge of misconduct regarding the alleged HK$3.35 million in renovations on his Shenzhen apartment in exchange for approving Wave Media applications when the jury failed to reach a verdict last week.

People have mixed reactions about the sentencing. Some feel Tsang didn't do any harm to anyone and so he should receive a lighter sentence, or none at all. But he was the leader of Hong Kong -- there are expectations our senior officials are supposed to exercise strong moral judgment not only on what's best for the city, but also of their own behaviour.

While he did a lot of good for Hong Kong in his 45-year career with the government, he was caught red-handed hanging out with tycoons on one of their yachts in Macau. He tried to worm his way out of it, but the evidence was stark.

Rafael Hui is serving a 7.5 year jail sentence for bribery
Tsang's sentence sets a precedence so that all civil servants know that they cannot take advantage of their positions for personal gain. If he didn't do any time for that, then we might see even more corruption cases.

But now we're two for two -- Rafael Hui Si-yan, and now Tsang. They may be reunited in Stanley prison too.

Two is already too many -- why does Hong Kong have people like this in office? More importantly why has Beijing chosen these people?

Seeing the intense media interest in Tsang's trial shows that senior officials must prove their worth, otherwise they too will suffer the same fate -- the humiliation of having fallen from so high.

Tuesday, 21 February 2017

Mainland Misunderstandings About HK

The seven police officers who were sentenced for assaulting Ken Tsang
After the seven police officers were sentenced to two years in jail for assaulting Ken Tsang Kin-chiu during the Occupy protests two years ago, it was shocking to read that the son of a general in China was willing to pay people 10,000 yuan each to beat up the judge who sentenced them.

Cai Xiaoxin, the son of late PLA Major General Cai Changyuan, wrote on his social media account he would pay anyone who would assault Judge David Dufton.

Other mainlanders were angered that a foreign judge would rule against the police officers, and felt Dufton was sympathetic to the Occupy protesters because he was British.

Hu Xijin claims the British judge's ruling was biased
Even Hu Xijin, editor-in-chief of The Global Times said Dufton's ruling was biased and influenced by politics. He said the judicial system in Hong Kong had inherited a tinge of colonialism and not committed to China's constitution.

Here we go again -- the giant rift between how Hong Kong and China works, and the difference between rule of law being upheld by the book, and by political influence.

Eric Cheung Tat-ming, a lecturer on law at the University of Hong Kong, said the outrage expressed in mainland media over the case was due to the lack of understanding of how the city's legal system worked.

"The Basic Law establishes that our judges were appointed by reference to their professional ability and merits rather than where they are from or their race," Cheung said.

The ruling, he explained, was not influenced by politics, and that jurisdictions that practiced common law regularly had judges from overseas hear local cases.

"The common law system is a legacy of the colonial era. But it is guaranteed in the Basic Law that we can continue the... system."

Ken Tsang (centre) was beaten up after in police custody
Also, it is outrageous and dangerous for the People's Daily to say: "The genesis of the Occupy movement in Hong Kong is inseparable from the political landmine the British government planted before it left the city."

That is fake news.

A culmination of factors led to the Occupy movement that sprung up completely spontaneously, the likes of which we will probably never see again.

The Chinese government is trying to blame someone else for Hong Kong people's unhappiness with the electoral reform package, but it was Beijing's white paper in 2014 that set the tone for the resentment and frustration towards the mainland that resulted in the 79-day protest.

But the Chinese will never understand these things because they see things the way Beijing wants them to see them, ie: warped.

The fact is, is that seven police officers beat, punched, kicked and slapped a man already in custody. Yes he got into trouble with the law by pouring liquid on them, but that doesn't give the police license to assault him when he was already ziptied.

This is what is wrong and they are being punished for it.

Seems pretty straight forward, no?

As for former Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen's conviction, there was probably no news about it at all on the mainland...

Monday, 20 February 2017

Super Fun Super Pool

People playing with lights in front of the Bank of China
On Friday evening I finished working out at the gym and on my way home I heard music and saw some glowing lights at Chater Garden, across from the Bank of China Building.

The circular art installation gets people involved
I took a closer look and saw in a circular penned area were colourful discs that changed colours when people stepped on them, and music played in the background.

It turns out it's an interactive art installation called Super Pool by Jen Lewin, an American artist based out of New York.

She is known for combining light, sound and complex engineering to create art installations that use LED lighting.

One of her best known works is called Pool, that uses over 200 LED-lit platforms that change colour according to the pressure and speed changes of the person stepping on it.

The Pool Around The World from Jen Lewin Studio on Vimeo.

For Super Pool, over 100 of the LED-lit pads are used.

The installation is part of the 45th Hong Kong Arts Festival that just kicked off last Thursday and it has since moved on to either Tsim Sha Tsui or Tsing Yi because tonight Super Pool is already gone from Central.

Everyone had fun watching the pads change colour
Nevertheless, I managed to get inside to try out Super Pool myself and it was the perfect playground for kids to run around, while adults were busy taking selfies. Super Pool is even cooler at night with the pads glowing from blue to aquamarine to magenta.

Visitors could play at Super Pool for about half an hour until the next batch of people are allowed in, but really 15 minutes was plenty. Afterwards we were encouraged to Instagram pictures we had taken and add #superpoolhkaf so that it would appear on its own account on a large screen and we could even get our picture printed out for fun.

While most people probably didn't understand the artistic value of the piece, it was definitely enjoyed by a lot of visitors who had fun playing with lights and sound on a Friday night.