Friday, August 16, 2013

Diffident Dissidents

Another of the Pro-China Morning Post's meaningless polls today.  "Do you agree with ex-minister Fred Ma that Hong Kong has been distracted by trivial issues?"  Yes, I think we can all (well, 89% of respondents, anyway) agree on that - but I very much doubt that we would all agree on what is trivial.  For example, I would consider one protester shouting abuse at the police in the heat of the moment a trivial incident - as would many others - but Chief Executive CY Leung apparently considers it significant enough for him to call for a report on the award-winning teacher responsible, and the China Daily predictably backs him in this witch-hunt.  There is no sign that this report will look into the far-from-trivial accusations of police bias that raised the protester's ire in the first place.

I'm not going to add more to the weight of verbiage on the demonisation of that unfortunate lady.  What interests me today is the Post's choice of words in its editorial - written by Lau Nai-keung, who can usually be relied on to channel the latest propaganda direct from the Central Government Liaison Office without any intervening thought process. The article, headed "Public opinion turns on anti-government protesters", begins: "The dissidents made a big mistake by staging a mass confrontation on August 4".

Now there are several points of interest here - for one thing, how big does a crowd have to be to make it a "mass"?  And which public is he talking about?  When you read the article, he appears to be talking mainly about the media and the new so-called Silent Majority organisation.

"Mainstream Hong Kong people", Lau argues, "badly want change, but not to the point of rocking the boat, never mind some kind of regime change as some dissidents would like. When our dissidents go too far, the silent majority will rise up and try to push them back, and this is what we are witnessing now".  He doesn't mention public concern that some of the "pushing back" at the recent Tin Shui Wai incident appears to have been done by known gangsters.  That's another issue the government apparently considers too trivial to pursue.

But perhaps the most interesting aspect of Lau's piece is his frequent use of the word "dissident".  The term is broadly defined, says Wikipedia, as one who actively challenges an established doctrine, policy or institution.  But in general usage, the term is almost exclusively applied to those who do so in response to a tyrannical dictatorship.  It seems that Lau's choice of the word is telling us more than he intends about the regime he so avidly supports.

No comments: