It's just a yellow object, stupid

September 26, 2019 08:00
Vasco Williams, a Hong Kong police representative, has drawn intense criticism from the public after he sought to dismiss questions over a video of suspected police misconduct against a protest volunteer. Photos: RTHK, i-Cable news

It is safe to assume that no sane person would kick a yellow object for no reason in a dark alley. I can, of course, imagine a group of drunken people kicking a yellow object for fun. The object doesn't even have to be yellow. It can be a dead rat for all they care. People high on alcohol are certainly capable of doing crazy things.

But I must admit I have never imagined a group of policemen kicking a yellow object in a dark alley away from public view. That actually happened last Saturday night in Yuen Long. It is fair for sane people to wonder why policemen would kick a yellow object in an alley while an anti-government protest was taking place a short distance away.

Could they have been overworked police taking a break from protest control? Kicking objects, yellow, blue, or white can be therapeutic. Or maybe they thought the yellow object was an alien from outer space. My own view is even aliens invading Earth shouldn't be kicked. They have human rights too, although in their case it would be alien rights.

Could it be that the police had come across a large swarm of cockroaches in the dark alley and spray-painted them yellow to see them clearly before kicking them? But that too, in my opinion, is wrong. Cockroaches have rights too.

Someone videoed the police kicking the yellow object. Most people who saw the video, including me, concluded the yellow object was a man in a yellow vest, later identified as someone from a religious group. But Acting Senior Superintendent Vasco Williams disputed that at a police press conference on Monday.

He said the video was out of focus and the police were kicking a yellow object which could have been a bag or vest. That baffles me. Why would the police kick a yellow bag or vest? Only Williams can answer that.

He didn't during the press conference. What he did do was treat the people and the press as fools with his overbearing arrogance. The more I watched his ludicrous answers to questions the more I wondered why the police commissioner allowed him to speak for the police force on live TV.

Hong Kong's international image has already been tarnished by more than three months of civil unrest, which Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor caused with her now withdrawn extradition bill. Public opinion polls show the approval rating of the police force has plummeted. Does the force want Williams to drag it down even further?

Back in 1992, when Bill Clinton was running for US president, his campaign aide came up with the now famous slogan "It's the economy, stupid" to spread the message during a recession that people were stupid if they didn't think the economy was the country's most pressing issue. I thought of that slogan when I saw Williams on TV. He was, in fact, talking down to Hongkongers by saying "it's just a yellow object, stupid".

If you're wondering why no public relations company wanted the job of improving Hong Kong's image despite Lam's offer, the arrogance of people like Williams may be one reason. To me, the daily press conference by the police does more harm than good. It comes across as sheer propaganda. The police use the air time to say what they want to say, show the doctored videos they want to show, but claim ignorance when asked questions they don't want to answer.

This evening there will be another example of how clueless the government is about measuring public opinion. The chief executive will have her first so-called community dialogue at Wanchai's Queen Elizabeth Stadium, assuming protesters don't lay siege to the venue.

I call it a dialogue of the deaf. Both sides talk but neither side listens. It's not that they are deaf, they just choose not to hear. Over the coming weeks and months, Hong Kong people will witness many dialogues of the deaf. It is the brainchild of Lam.

Over 20,000 have applied to join tonight's event but only 150 computer-selected Hongkongers will be gifted to attend in a stadium that can hold 3,500. Only some of the 150 drawn by lottery will be allowed to speak for a few minutes each during the two-hour session. Lam is living in la la land if she thinks such dialogues can solve Hong Kong's worst ever political crisis.

She has already said she won't accept the remaining four demands of protesters. The protesters have said they will accept nothing less than their four demands. That's why I say it's a dialogue of the deaf.

Beijing loyalists lucky enough to be selected will likely demand that Lam ban protesters from wearing facemasks, citing similar laws in democracies such as France. To these hypocrites I say: make Hong Kong fully democratic first. Make our legislature fully democratic first. Otherwise, please don't compare Hong Kong with full democracies.

Deafness has plagued this administration since February when Lam insisted on a sweeping extradition bill that included mainland China, ignoring pleas by the business and legal sectors to kill the bill. Now she dares to say she is heartbroken to learn many of the protesters arrested are young teenagers. She is the sole cause of the often violent protests. So please leave the broken hearts to the parents of the arrested children.

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A Hong Kong-born American citizen who has worked for many years as a journalist in Hong Kong, the USA and London.