Massaged Away

August 10, 2021 10:49
Photo: RTHK

There is a mellifluous use of language when we speak of ‘massaging the facts’. It is consonant with being economical with the truth or, as Winston Churchill once put it so succinctly in the House of Commons, expressing a terminological inexactitude.

What is incredibly depressing is the Carrie Lam government’s propensity to peddle distortions and circumvent the truth with total impunity.

Consequently, it is questionable whether the public will be reassured to learn that the Department of Justice, having conducted what it described as a complete review of the case, have concluded that Senior Assistant Commissioner of Police Frederic Choi has been cleared of any criminal charges.

The DoJ confirmed that no criminal elements were involved.

SAC Choi has been reassigned from his post as Director of the national security law enforcement division to be Director of Personnel and Training.

Police Commissioner Raymond Siu said “As we have confirmed no crime elements
were involved in the incident, and as Choi has served the force for more than 25 years, we are confident in his work capability.”

The Commissioner’s statement seems to confirm an earlier statement that the inquiry would be conducted by the Anti-Triad Division. That the inquiry was conducted in-house, raises concerns as to its objectivity.

I am put in mind of Senior Superintendent Sin Kam Wah who accepted the services of a prostitute organized by the wife of another senior police officer and was convicted of misconduct in public office because he did not pay.

The criminality in his case was not that he had actually committed any offence but that he had made himself vulnerable to pressure from criminal elements by virtue of his conduct.

Looked at from the outside, a critical point of difference between the two cases is that Senior Superintendent Sin’s case was investigated by the ICAC rather than an in-house inquiry by the Police followed by an internal DoJ investigation.

The historical tension between the Hong Kong Police and the ICAC at least gave the public confidence that Mr. Sin’s case could not be tucked away neatly by some in-house investigation backed up by a complicit Department of Justice.

It goes without saying that the public will not be informed about the nature of the services that Senior Assistant Commissioner Choi sought at the unlicensed massage parlour but we can safely assume that it was not only his ego that was being massaged, though it could have been his feet.

The extent of this government’s stupidity is concomitant with its conviction that the bulk of the population will swallow all this garbage without demur.

What is fascinating is that the rank and file police officers are letting it be known that they regard this official whitewashing exercise as a slur on their reputation and they are furious. Rightly so.

For all I know, Commissioner Siu is a thoroughly upright and decent officer who has been ordered to brush over the massage parlour incident. Certainly, his use of words does not convey the level of confidence in a fellow officer that one would expect to hear if SAC Choi’s integrity was really being endorsed by his commanding officer.

What, one is forced to imagine, will SAC Choi say to the officers under training? Perhaps he will adopt a John Cleese persona: ‘Now, men, it’s OK to visit unlicensed massage parlours so long as you make sure there are no Triad elements involved.’ Wink, wink, nudge, nudge.

In a typical DoJ fudge, despite having cleared SAC Choi of any illegal misconduct in the Viet Massage Parlour that offered sexual services, nonetheless he will be referred to a Civil Service Disciplinary Hearing.

That raises the fascinating question of which civil service regulation he may have contravened?

The Police have their own strict service disciplinary procedure, to which one assumes SAC Choi was referred. Has he been exonerated of the Force’s own disciplinary regulations? If so, why is he being referred to the Civil Service disciplinary procedure?

If he is to be castigated for a perceived breach of morality, surely he would have been caught by the generic Police Code of Conduct by bringing the force into disrepute?

Sadly, it is the government’s mishandling of the situation which brings it, rather than the Hong Kong Police Force into disrepute.

Viewed dispassionately, it has all the hallmarks of a coterie of selected top officials ganging up to protect their own. This impression is reinforced when one considers that the Chief Secretary and the Secretary for Security are both ex-Police Officers too.

Have those who stalk the corridors of power in Tamar forgotten that the bulk of the population were already highly critical of the impression that the Police are not accountable to anyone?

This grotesquerie does no service to honest, decent police officers trying to go about their duties with integrity.

And what impression will this make on those principled officers in the Department of Justice who find themselves tarred with the same brush of nepotism? Will they not be as outraged as the police officers who are seething with anger at the way the incident is being massaged into insignificance?

One can only imagine what the powers that be in Beijing must be thinking about the misfits purportedly governing Hong Kong?

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