How far will the apologists go? The only safe answer to this question is – further than you think.

Even hardened cynics will have been taken aback by the extent to which Hong Kong’s Quislings are willing to abase themselves before their masters in Beijing.

Photo: Studio Incendo.

This process of abasement has scaled new heights with the introduction of the new national security law. It has driven the Quislings into a fury of scrambling over the bodies of ailing clichés to affirm their unwavering commitment to whatever is included in the new law.

Yet, from the Chief Executive in Name Only (The CENO) down, they freely admit that they have not the slightest idea of the law’s contents but stress that this will not stop them from supporting it to the hilt.

And they are vying among themselves not just to extoll its virtues but are queuing up to suggest ways in which the law can be made as oppressive as possible. Teressa Cheng, the Justice Secretary,  has spent most of her dismal time in office assuring Hongkongers that the common law system remains in place to ensure justice. But now she is glibly suggesting that it can be cast aside when it comes to the security law because the legal systems in Hong Kong and on the Mainland are not the same. Who knew?

Secretary for Justice Teresa Cheng. Photo: RTHK screenshot.

And they are vying among themselves not just to extoll its virtues but are queuing up to suggest ways in which the law can be made as oppressive as possible. Teressa Cheng, the Justice Secretary,  has spent most of her dismal time in office assuring Hongkongers that the common law system remains in place to ensure justice. But now she is glibly suggesting that it can be cast aside when it comes to the security law because the legal systems in Hong Kong and on the Mainland are not the same. Who knew?

John Lee, the former policeman who rejoices in the title of Security Secretary, clearly frightened that he might be overlooked in this sycophancy-fest, chipped in to say that the law needed to include limitations on interactions with foreign governments because, well because, we all know what foreigners get up to.

Erick Tsang, the sycophant’s sycophant, who carefully carted his big ceramic picture of Xi Jinping to his new office over at the constitutional affairs department, also chipped in to say that the law could be a good reason for disqualifying candidates for elected office. He said that no candidate could possibly be loyal to the SAR  unless they firmly stood behind the law

Erick Tsang. File Photo: Bauhinia Magazine screenshot.

Tam Yiu-chung, the only Hongkonger to sit on the National People’s Congress Standing Committee, has glibly suggested that Hong Kong suspects could be tried across the border, precisely the fear that stoked the anti-extradition law protests. However now that the veil has dropped, Tam felt emboldened to blurt out what was always the plan.

Deng Zhonghua, a deputy director of Beijing’s Hong and Macau Affairs Office, said that  Beijing would need to have jurisdiction over national security cases. Apparently this will only be used in ‘exceptional cases’. Presumably this assurance is on a par with that made when water cannons were introduced to control demonstrations. A firm assurance was given that they would only be deployed in ‘exceptional’ circumstances, which turned out to mean practically every demonstration.

Other Mainland officials have made it clear that China’s much feared state security apparatus will need to be formally established in Hong Kong. And, as Tam says, they can then “guide” the SAR’s police force.

Photo: Studio Incendo.

What do other Quislings have to say about all this? “Why not” they chant because the time has come to forget all past assurances of preserving the very clear distinctions that underpin the concept of one country, two systems.

No stone is being left unturned in the frenzy to assure the masters in Beijing that Hong Kong has abandoned its wicked commitment to the freedoms that were supposedly guaranteed under the Basic Law. Companies big, small and indifferent have been compelled to announce their fidelity to a law that does not exist but will be just wonderful once it comes into force.

Movie stars, singers and a whole host of public personalities have also been corralled into the support chorus.

It is a wonder to behold the extent of coercion to create an image of Hong Kong people clamouring for an end to the liberties that have made the SAR a distinctive part of China. Some joined the chorus under threat. Step forward HSBC, Jardine Matheson and a host of others. However there was no need to coerce the gaggle of office holders, office seekers and others seeking preferment who knew what to do from the off.

No one needed to tell them because sycophancy is second nature to these people and when they find that their personal interests are in conflict with the interests of Hong Kong, there is no mystery over which interest prevails.

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Stephen Vines

Stephen Vines is a Hong Kong-based journalist, writer and broadcaster and runs companies in the food sector. He was the founding editor of 'Eastern Express' and founding publisher of 'Spike'. In London he was an editor at The Observer and in Asia has worked for international publications including, the Guardian, Daily Telegraph, BBC, Asia Times and The Independent. Vines is the author of several books, including: Hong Kong: China’s New Colony, The Years of Living Dangerously - Asia from Crisis to the New Millennium and Market Panic and most recently, Food Gurus. He hosts a weekly television current affairs programme: The Pulse. Vines’ latest book, Defying the Dragon – Hong Kong and the world’s largest dictatorship, will be published in 2021 by Hurst Publishers, London