Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Response to Mr Lee

This post is a response to a comment. You can see the comment below but as the response was very long I decided to post it as a post.

There also appears to be something wrong with my browser that is mangling words.

Mr. Lee,

Thanks for being polite. Let me take your points one at a time.

You Wrote
First of all I agree that hunger strike is a futile gesture unless they were willing to go through with it, which they didn't because it only lasted for 4 days(?)

I'm glad we agree on something.

Please read my previous post on this conference. I am not necessarily a supporter of the WTO but I like the protesters even less. Indeed, I could in no way shape or form be called an advocate of big or world government

You Wrote
But you seem to be suggesting that the Korean farmers wanted to come and destroy HK. Understandably, many HKer's had this view thanks to the climate of fear the media had created, not to mention the violence from past WTO meetings such as Seattle & Genoa. But if you really knew what was going on and instead of feeding from the one-sided reporting from the likes of TVB and tabloids you would have a far more objective view. Fortunately, a sizeable bunch of HKer's did go and see for themselves and rallied to support and applaud the protestors as they marched by. Good to see a bunch that weren't entirely ignorant & not brainwashed by TVB reporters

I live in Causeway Bay. Right across the street from Victoria Park, next to the public library; I had to walk through the protest to go to and come home from work. Therefore, I am not just reporting what I saw on TVB. I am writing about what I saw and walked through. Indeed, the TV stations here tried to present the protest as a party, using terms like "Festive atmosphere" to describe the back end of the protest.

I did indeed make it a point talk to them. What I found was that they would not tolerate any deviation from their party line. If that is unfair then I'm sorry that is how they present themselves. Kind of anything goes unless you disagree with me. I spent quite a while on Monday evening in Victoria Park. I talked with them.
More than that. I am old enough to have talked with them for a long time. If not these folks then other with more or less the same agenda.

These protesters may not have wanted to destroy Hong Kong but I don't believe that the Koreans didn't want violence. At the very least they came here planning to cause trouble. The riots they started are not a one off event. They do it every time. I also believe they were looking for trouble because they said as much before hand. They came expecting trouble. You cannot say, in effect., "We'll come prepared for anything" and still call yourself a basically peaceful protester.

Starting about Tuesday I saw the Korean farmers wearing what looked like body armor made out of some sort of sack stuffed with straw. They had helmets. They were openly carrying big sticks, bamboo poles and other objects that could be used as clubs. They were wearing painters mask and face shields. If they were not expecting violence then why wear that? They WERE at least to this passerby, behaving in a very passive aggressive manner. It was not very pleasant to stand at the crosswalk with them. Think about it. If they didn't start anything the police wouldn't have either. To say any thing else is simply unbelievable.

The fact that there was not more trouble is not that the protesters didn't want it but rather that Hong Kong took rather extraordinary measures to insure that the situation would not get out of hand

Most of the local Hong Kong people that I could see at the protester were actually spectators. There were not that many participants Though there were some. Certainly when it really got violent many of them left.

You Wrote
How can you criticize someone that you haven't talked or interacted with. From my time spend with the Koreans, they were a friendly courteous bunch, they would've been more happier if they haven't been pushed to the brink of poverty. And that goes for the Phillipinos, Indonesians, Mexicans and other nationalities.

As I said above. I talked with them and more than that I look at who they are. Once again I refer you to my previous post. You had groups at this protest that wanted diametrically opposing things. Some, like those from Indonesia wanted greater access to markets in developed countries like Korea and Japan. Others, like the Koreans want their country to maintain high trade barriers to keep lower priced goods from less developed countries out. It appears to me the protesters from Zimbabwe should have been battling the protesters from South Korea. It also tells me that they either don't know what is going on in the WTO or they have another agenda.

I did interact with them and I did talk to them. I made it a point to do so. I've written about this in previous post.

It is also simply untrue to say that the Korean farmers have been "Pushed to the brink of poverty" It is simply a lie. They admitted as much when ATV interviewed them. They have an income of well over USD $50,000. The truth is the have a good living because Korea keeps its trade walls in place. That impoverishes people else where. Besides, if they were in poverty then how did they afford the travel expense? They show up at all of these meetings. If I were in poverty I'd have better uses for what little cash I had than to fly around the word protesting? I saw them complaining about their debt load. Well, I come from a farming area. the debt load they talked about does not seem that much different from the US farmers I used to bail hay for in Texas as a teenager. Depending upon the size of the farm USD$1 million debt might not be excessive for an income of $50,000 a year.

That income, incidentally probably places the Korean farmers in the top 10% to 15% wealthiest people in the world. Hardly poverty strickened. Operation debt for a business and poverty are different things.

You Wrote
The so-called 'terrorists' you claim didn't touch one single HK citizen. (Did you also notice the hundreds of HK protestors?)

I called the protesters terrorist thugs because they were attempting to influence political events by violence. Yet they are not part of an official army or national militia. Here is a definition of a terrorist I pulled out of
adj : characteristic of someone who employs terrorism (especially as a political weapon); "terrorist activity"; "terrorist state" n : a radical who employs terror as a political weapon; usually organizes with other terrorists in small cells; often uses religion as a cover for terrorist activities.

Just in encase you don't know what terrorism is here is a definition


n. The unlawful use or threatened use of force or violence by a person or an organized group against people or property with the intention of intimidating or coercing societies or governments, often for ideological or political reasons.

That is exactly what these people are trying to do. They are by definition, terrorist. That doesn't mean they are Ussama bin Laden but they are terrorist never-the-less because they are trying to threaten or intimidate governments through the use of force but are not part of a national army. But, ok we can use the term bullies if you like.

You wrote
Not one single store window was smashed. They picked up their own rubbish after a rally. They even gave back the police their riot shields.

There were no windows broken because the stores were closed and the rolling storm doors pulled down and locked. If you were at the protest you would have seen this. To not mention it is disingenuous. Other buildings had their plate glass windows boarded up with plywood.
I have pictures posted of this in previous post that prove this.

The bricks used in Hong Kong sidewalks were GLUED together so that they could not be pried up and thrown. They are still glued down go look at them

The overhead walkways were covered with chain-link fence to protect the automobiles below.

With the crowd control measures in place by the police it would have been difficult for the protesters to do more damage without lots of work. But, is that a reflection of the protesters or the preparations of the Hong Kong police?

Let us also not forget that there are something like 30,000 PLA troops in Hong Kong. While they were not needed (thankfully) the fact that they could have possibly been called upon may have had some deterrent effect. More likely it was the preparation and diligence of the Hong Kong Police. I have no doubt that if the police had been less resolute the protesters would have caused more problems.
Or, have you forgotten Seattle?

I also freely admit that if I were Donald Tsang I would have used the PLA to supplement the police.

You wrote
The majority of criticism comes from their actions on tnightghS 17day 17th717th7th. It was a clash that nobody wanted. (sic). A Korean even restrained an Indonesian because the stick he used to hit the Police was too big & dangerous. . I did see a few that chose my violent measures such as throwing projectiles at unarmored officers, but when you stageneralizinging a group by a few individuals' actions then that would be ignorant

It is not, in my experience true that the violence was primarily limited to Saturday night. What is true is that the HK police did a very good job keeping violent people under control. There was violence every day.

Let's not even talk about the first day of the protest when the Korean Farmers set a big sign or alter looking thing on fire and then used it as a battering ram to try and break the police cordon. Is using a burning battering ram against a police barricade minimal use of force? Would the body armor worn by police keep them from getting burned? That was on the first day. But you obviously don't remember that.

The truth is there were a series of escalating and increasingly violent action planed and initiated by the protesters, primarily the Korean farmers, throughout the week. It was planned and thought out. It was obvious to anybody who watched it. Day one violent, day two peaceful march day three, more violence, day 4 less. What the protesters were doing is trying to wear down the Hong Kong police. The protesters could rest or even go shopping. The police outnumbered 4 to 1 were working 12 hour shifts and had to be on guard 24 hours a day. That is why the major push came on17th, because they'd hoped that the police would be tired. The non violent people played their part in this by staging protest all over Hong Kong which stretched the police lines and made it potentially possible for the violent ones to break the cordon. Indeed, why did the non-violent people not go to the front of the protest and interpose themselves between the police and the violent minority? That would have stopped the violence. It would have also made the point that they were were NOT passively supporting the violence.

I looked I didn't see this happen. Were they perhaps afraid of the Koreans? The non-violent people like that goof in the chicken suit or the woman dressed liMinnienie Mouse only appeared after the Violent break through attempt had failed.

Remember. I was there.

You Wrote
Instead the Koreans chose to use brittle plywood which wouldn't penetrate the riot poliarmorour & shield

If the Koreans were so intent on not hurting the police they should not have hit them with anything at all. Your argument is simply silly on that point. They could have marched up to the police line presented their demands and then sat down and say 46 verses of "The Internatonale" or play cards. It would have made the police look silly and gotten their messaacrossoss with greater clarity.

By the way, Let me hit you with a brittle piece of plywood. Wear a Kevlar vest if you want. Let's see if you think it hurts.

That some of the people engaging in terrorism were not willing to go as far some of the others is beside the point. The fact that it might not penetrate armor doesn't mean that it could not cause bodily harm. It was an act of violence that was intended to cause harm or provoke a more violent response from the police. Hitting someone with a ply wood club is assault.

You Wrote
The Koreans wanted to make their voices directly heard to the WTO delegates, while the Police needed to protect the delegation.

Once again, I refer you to my previous post, if these people are upset with the trade policy of their country then they should elect leader who support those positions. Korea, despite being a some what repressive place does have an elected government and multiple parties. Membership in the WTO is voluntary. So Korea doesn't have to follow its recommendations. But, South Korea also appears to me to be a rather violent place as there have been a number of violent labor riots there over the years.

Indeed. This is how I feel that trade agreements should work. I don't like extra governmental organizations like the WTO. There are a host of reasons, some of them more valid than others that a nation might not want to let the goods of another nation within its borders.

If these farmers want their voices heard they should do it at the ballot box in their own country, not with a club against the helmet of a Hong Kong police officer; period, full stop, end of argument. What they did is beyond the pale and was a criminal act.

You Wrote
Therefore violence occurred, not because the protestors wanted a fight.


It is as simple as that.

They said before hand and have said at each of these meetings that they would refrain from violence only if all of their demands were met. You said yourself that the Hong Kong police did not engage in police brutality. Ask yourself, "Who started the violence?" It wasn't the police. Thus it must have been the protesters. So if they didn't want to be violent then why were they violent?

Did TVB or maybe the CIA pay some thugs to start something and blame it on the Koreans?

You Wrote
In fact both sides wanted to use the least amount of force.

In a sense you are correct here. The terrorist, excuse me, bullies, wanted to use only so much force as was needed to achieve their ends. The police wanted to use only so much force as was needed to keep the terrorist, eh bullies, from achieving their ends.

You Wrote

I also say that there was no police brutality involved except how they treated them in prison

I don't actually know if I agree or not. I don't know what went on in prison (actually a jail as a prison is for those who have already been convicted) However, I do from my days as a college radical know that anytime you were arrested at a protest you yelled brutality. I find it difficult to believe that the police would show so much restraint at the protest when they could have justifiably used more and then got mean when nobody was looking. Maybe it happened but I am not going to take a terrorist word for it. However, I don't know.

You Wrote:
They were charged with "illegal assembly"', as were 900 others! And not all were Koreans. So why was it whittled down to these 14? They seem to be scapegoats to me.

A couple of things are important here. It appears to me that Hong Kong uses somewhat archaic legal language. In the US or Canada or many other places the charge would have been more like "inciting a riot" or maybe, since the arrest were made about 3:00 AM "Loitering". They may have also been arrested for something they were accused of having committed at an earlier time. We will have to wait until their day in court today.

I will say this, though it may not be true, it does appear that the judiciary in Hong Kong drug its feet. Two weeks is a long time to wait for an arraignment. But, maybe that is the way it always works in Hong Kong.

More than this, what would you be saying today if they had detained all 900? Would you then be calling the police NAZI pigs accusinging them of using excessive force? Does Hong Kong have the ability hold that many people. Maybe they do maybe they don't, I don't know.

The ones they held may have been held because they were organizers or leaders rather than simply guys in the crowd. Once again, we'll have to wait until today when they have their court appearance.

As I said above I don't have much argument on this point. However, I am not sure that foot dragging before an arraignment rises to the level of brutality. I do think the Taiwanese student should have been retained. I would bet a dollar to a doughnut hole he will not ever return for his day in court.

However, it is the South Koreans who are the organizers and leaders of these protests. So maybe, the HK government is trying to just prosecute the big fish.

I think that the arrest were made because a significant percentage of the protesters started a fight and had been identified as being at that meeting I don't think it is any accident that the final night of the WTO meeting was relatively violence free. I think most of the terrorist were in jail.

You Wrote
Your example of being arrested in South Korea for the same thing is contradicting. It is a different scenario from HK because as you saS. Korearea is indeed a autocratic state in disguise so you would get your ass severely beaten. Assaulting the police? Only if you manage to really hurt them.

Ok, insert any country you wish. If I break the law in Canada should Canada be unable to prosecute me because I am a protester from another country? What about Australia, France, England, the US? I know for a fact that countries like Mexico and Thailand have lots of non-citizens in their prison systems. There are a fair number of Mexican nationals in US and Canadian prisons. I personally know of one Hong Kong citizen who is in a Canadian prison. Singapore hold expatriots and even executes them. If these people broke the law, whether in a protest or not, they should be hauled before a judge and have their charges reviewed. If they are guilty of breaking a law in Hong Kong then they should be rehabilitated or punished under Hong Kong law.

Hong Kong cannot simply dismiss their charges and say "Oh well" because it would undermine the entire legal system.

Read up on the law my friend. As far as I know if you threaten someone in such a way that they believe you have the intent to harm them it is assault whether you actually wound them or not. The charge may be mitigated with a word like "attempted" but it is still essentially the same thing. When the protesters hit the police shield wall with sticks they committed assault of some form.

You Wrote
100 million worth of damage? Like the few fences that were broken here? Only if they're expensive diamond plated fences.

The actual figure is HKD$250,000,000 paid by the government. I don't know how much of that went to security designed to keep protesters away from delegates but less than half is a fair guess. Some of the restaurants on Lockhart Road were loosing HKD $20,000 a day. Damage is not only property damage. I'm being generous

You Wrote
Furthermore, I noticed the newspaper's use of the word 'threaten' which is exaggerated. It makes it seem that 1000 farmers will descend on HK to mount a commando-rescue operation. Utterly bad journalism and fear mongering

Indeed! Just exactly what about the behavior of these protesters would cause me not to be afraid they were going to cause trouble? I saw a Korean man making the threat on a news broadcast. The threat was that if any of the arrested Koreans serve jail time or have to pay fine they were coming back and that they didn't want trouble but...... Once again TVB may not be the most reliable news station in the world but it is hard to say he was misquoted. I guess the translator could have misquoted him. If so I'm sorry

You Wrote
I say: Prophet, heal thyself

Until Next Time
Fai Mao

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