Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Could CY Leung Pass the Turing Test?

Most of my readers have probably heard of the Turing Test.  It was devised by Alan Turing, a British computing pioneer who helped Britain win World War II by breaking Germany's secret codes.  In less enlightened times, he was rewarded by his grateful country by being punished and driven to suicide for his sexual orientation.

Turing put forward what has become the standard test for artificial intelligence.  A person sits at a keyboard and conducts a conversation online, not knowing whether the entity at the other end is a real person or a computer.  Artificial intelligence will have come of age when the tester is unable to determine from the responses that a computer is in fact a machine, not a human being.

What I wonder is, given his tendency to substitute pre-programmed responses for genuine dialogue, whether Chief Executive CY Leung would be judged by the tester to be human or some form of artificial intelligence?  Perhaps a requirement to prove oneself human should be added to the requirements for nomination as a CE candidate?

Silence of the Damned

Most of the usual pro-government loudmouths are keeping unusually quiet at the moment about the current events in Hong Kong, but not Robert Chow, self-appointed (and self-inflated) spokesman of those with nothing to say.  Chow popped up on television yesterday asking the Occupy Central protesters to end their occupation of the streets soon so "ordinary citizens" could go about their business.  What does he think the thousands of protesters (and hundreds of thousands likely to join them over the holiday tomorrow) are - little green aliens from the planet Twinkletoes?  They are ordinary citizens of Hong Kong - unlike the busloads of mainlanders Chow imported to boost the numbers on his anti-Occupy march last month.

To claim, as Chow does, to speak for the "silent majority" relies on two assumptions, both false: 1) that those who do not speak out all agree with you; and 2) that they want you to speak on their behalf.  It takes a remarkably big ego and small brain to believe both of these.

Monday, September 29, 2014

A Reader, Not a Leader

CY Leung's TV address to the Hong Kong people yesterday:

Look briefly at camera.
Blah Blah Blah.
Look down at Beijing-provided script.
Blah Blah Blah.
Blah Blah Blah.
Blah Blah Blah.
Look briefly at camera.
Blah Blah Blah.
Look down at Beijing-provided script.
Blah Blah Blah.
Blah Blah Blah.
Blah Blah Blah.
Look briefly at camera.
Blah Blah Blah.
Look down at Beijing-provided script.
Blah Blah Blah.
Blah Blah Blah.
Blah Blah Blah.

...and so on.  All delivered in that infuriating flat robotic monotone which he probably thinks indicates calm assurance but which actually signifies a lack of passion and emotional engagement.  The man has no personal warmth whatsoever.  And at a time of crisis, people want a leader who talks to them directly from the heart, not just a zombie reading a prepared statement which he has clearly not even looked at in advance.

As for the content of both his public appearances yesterday, it was just more reading from the same tired script.  "Beijing won't change its mind".  "Occupy Central is illegal" (we know that - what part of "civil disobedience" doesn't he understand?)  "Government won't tolerate illegal activities".  "Strictly in accordance with the Basic Law" (untrue, but that's for another post).  And Blah Blah Blah.

Clearly Leung - like his two predecessors - totally lacks imagination.  He looks increasingly like an actor who has learned his lines thoroughly but then finds himself on stage with someone like Spike Milligan or Robin Williams, doggedly trying to stick to the script while they improvise entire new plotlines all around him.

At this point, there are only two useful things that Leung could say to the Hong Kong public.  The first is "I misrepresented Hong Kong's views to the NPCSC and helped create this mess we're in.  I'm sorry."  I doubt he will do this, but there are still one or two of his government ministers who have a little integrity left - I'm hoping they will break ranks, admit they got it wrong, and say they don't want to be part of this sorry show any more.

The second is "I resign".

Video - I couldn't find a video of his second speech yesterday, which was in Chinese, but here's the earlier one in English where he's also obviously reading woodenly from his script.  It's hard to see why he needs one when he's repeated all these lies and half-truths so many times before.  Perhaps his handlers at the Liaison Office are scared he may stray off-message if they don't put the exact words into his mouth.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

They've got the guns, but we've got the numbers

Whoever is in charge of the police operation at Admiralty today appears to be a complete idiot (or taking orders from a complete idiot, probably Police Commissioner Andy Tsang, or even his boss CY Leung) .  Not content with already using pepper spray and tear gas to escalate a mild protest into a riot, they have now threatened to open fire on the crowd with live bullets.  I can think of nothing more certain to provoke the Hong Kong people into a mass eruption of anger against the government which would make the Article 23 demonstrations look like a church picnic by comparison.  I also suspect many of the police would feel very uneasy at being part of it.
Either the government has no idea of the level of resentment it has built up in Hong Kong, or they are already determined to replicate the Tiananmen Massacre on Hong Kong soil.  Either way the future doesn't look good.  This is not the Hong Kong any of us wants.

CY Leung Reacts to Occupy Central

There is much that could be said about Occupy Central and the events of the past few days.  All I will say here for now is that I want to live in a Hong Kong where the police force protects ordinary citizens from criminals, not one where gas-mask-wearing shield-carrying riot police protect a clueless and unelected government from the people.

Monday, September 15, 2014

The Great Pretender

Former Secretary for Justice Elsie Leung, now Deputy Director of the Basic Law Committee, said a couple of days ago that "People wish to have universal suffrage in 2017, and they should not be deprived of their chance".

No argument with that, but then she turned stupid: "When you label it as true or false universal suffrage I think it's meaningless.  I mean you can't say that just because it's not the same as what I want and [sic] therefore it's not true universal suffrage".

I don't believe for one moment that Elsie Leung is too simple-minded to understand the difference between an election allowing voters to select from a range of candidates representing a wide spectrum of political viewpoints, and one where the choice is between 2 or 3 identikit candidates all effectively handpicked by the Chinese Communist Party.  In other words, she is pretending not to understand the difference with the intention of reducing a serious divergence on political principle to a mere question of personal preference, like the choice between Pepsi and Coke.

Leung is playing the fool for political advantage, and she wants you to be fooled too.  Don't be.

A Child's Guide to Hong Kong CE Elections

Saturday, September 13, 2014

News of the Century

Two New Telephones Go On Sale Today!

One of those eagerly awaiting the new devices, Mr Ned Ludd, said: "I have been waiting for this even longer than Hong Kong has been waiting for real democracy".

Special Feature Pages 1-93.

Today's other news:
  • Bubonic plague infects everyone in Manhattan
  • Entire North Polar icecap melts overnight - tsunamis kill millions
  • Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse ride through Tin Shui Wai
-- all on Page 94.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Naughty Phone Calls

Under the pretence of "protecting the young", the repellent Alliance for Sleaze and Hypocrisy has set up a hotline which mean-spirited individuals can call to grass on students who join the coming class boycott in support of genuine universal suffrage.

Of course\, it would also be possible for concerned individuals to call the number anonymously and tell the unlovely Alliance exactly what they think of them compiling (probably illegally) lists of young people engaged in a lawful protest.  After all, the Alliance's stated aim is to object to illegal means of pursuing democracy, and there is nothing illegal about the proposed action.  But you wouldn't do anything so naughty, now would you?
Courtesy of Hong Wrong, which has more on this.

It has only just occurred to me that Alliance head Robert Chow may have ambitions to become the next Chief Executive.  No one could suck up to Beijing so assiduously without hoping for something in return.  From positioning his previous organisation, the dishonestly-titled Silent Majority, as some sort of independent voice of the people, he has gone to acting like a Red Guard during the Cultural Revolution in a matter of weeks.  Creepy.

Thursday, September 04, 2014

Outburst of the Day

Much as I would like to come up with long analytical pieces every morning demonstrating my deep insight into Hong Kong's precarious political situation, I don't often have the time - or the deep insight, come to that.  (How does Hemlock manage it?)  And I don't want this blog to become simply a Twitter-like stream of short splutters of outrage.  However, I will say that I find watching the news these days a painful experience - the main entertainment it offers is totting up the number of lies being paraded by the government and its allies:
  • There is still time to achieve consensus on political reform - LIE!  Unless you define "consensus" Beijing-style as shutting up and doing what you're told.  The door has been firmly slammed on any other option.
  • The 2017 vote will be "real democracy" - LIE!  Does anyone believe there will be any real choice between the candidates on offer?  Or that any of them will stand up for Hong Kong's interests when they conflict with those of Beijing?
  • We must not miss this golden opportunity to progress further towards democracy - LIE!  Can anyone explain to me how being able to vote freely for a candidate you don't want is any improvement on being unable to vote for one you do want?  There is no progress when the net effect is the same - no chance of being able to choose even a half-decent leader.  Better to retain the current system, so at least the least objectionable of Beijing's preferred 2 or 3 yes-men will not have the chance to falsely claim any sort of public mandate.
OK, that's today's splutter.  Thank you for your attention to this matter, as Hong Kong people like to write.

Monday, September 01, 2014

One Way Traffic

Before 1997, there was a slew of books predicting that the advent of Chinese rule would inevitably mean the death of Hong Kong.  For several years, I believed that they were wrong.  I would tell friends overseas who asked how life here had changed that the Chinese government had interfered far less than we all feared, and that by and large Hong Kong life went on much as before.

It is now apparent that these perceptions arose from a false sense of security.  In reality, Hong Kong has been in the position of a woman forced into an unwanted arranged marriage whose new husband chooses not to consummate it immediately - but eventually she is bound to get well and truly screwed.  And now we are.

Among the many betrayers of Hong Kong who have contributed to the dire situation we are in, one name stands out.  Rita Fan Hsu Lai-tai CBE - prominent among the sudden patriots I wrote about yesterday - is Hong Kong's only member (one can hardly call her a representative, as she only represents herself) of the NPC Standing Committee that laid down the disastrous fake democracy blueprint delivered yesterday.  As such, she bears a special responsibility for its decision.

The Independent newspaper once asked "What is it about Rita Fan that makes Hong Kong hate her so?"  Well, one obvious reason is that she likes to lecture Hong Kong people on why they are all wrong about Beijing, and boast of her own unique insight into the Central Government's thinking.  A few days ago she warned Hong Kong people not to pressurise Beijing (as if a mouse could apply much pressure to an elephant!), and after yesterday's announcement she reinforced the message:
"If we want something done we have to persuade them in a manner that they can understand.  We should never persuade people in a manner that they feel unhappy about, that they feel they are being pressurised."
OK, so let us assume for a moment that Fan is right.  Since she claims to know how to persuade Beijing in a manner that it can understand, how has she used this knowledge to make them realise that the pseudo-democracy it proposes for Hong Kong can only exacerbate unrest, deepen division, and ultimately destroy the very "stability and prosperity of Hong Kong" to which the Beijing leadership so often claims to be committed?  And has she advised Beijing not to let Hong Kong people feel that they are being pressurised?

Well, nothing at all, and no, respectively.  Fan did not achieve the power and influence she so clearly enjoys by speaking uncomfortable truths to the powerful.  She will tell Beijing nothing about Hong Kong that it does not wish to hear.  And the narrative - or myth - Beijing prefers, and may even fool itself into believing, is of a contented and united populace loyally devoted to the motherland and grateful to the all-powerful Chinese Communist Party for the gifts it so munificently bestows on them, spoiled only by a negligible handful of dissident troublemakers stirring up disagreement.

Fan is not of course the only politician peddling this one-way traffic - passing down Beijing's imperious edicts to Hong Kong, while failing to help the Central Government understand the SAR's needs and concerns.  With a few honourable exceptions, most government ministers and the DAB's leaders are all guilty of the same thing.  But as Hong Kong's only member of the NPC Standing Committee, Fan was in a uniquely privileged position last week to make a real difference to Hong Kong's future.  By going along with a decision that will ensure future CEs continue to speak for the Central Government rather than representing the people of Hong Kong, she has sadly abused that privilege.

As the winter of our discontent deepens, what adds insult to injury is that not only has Fan welcomed the approaching iceberg, but she and fellow Beijing toady Lau Siu-kai, former head of the Central Policy Unit, have even blamed us - the Hong Kong people - for steering the ship into it.  According to them Beijing has taken a hard line against the democrats in Hong Kong, as Lau puts it, "simply because of the the pressure they apply on Beijing".  Yeah, sure - and without that we would surely be living in paradise...

PS - it's hard to believe when you look at her now, but Rita Fan was quite a beauty when she was young.