July 2020

Plenty going on in Hong Kong during May and June. COVID 19 continued to spread globally and the number of cases soared over 13 million with more than half a million deaths. Hong Kong continued to handle the situation relatively well mostly thanks to the good sense of local people and dedication of our health professionals. Total caseload under 2000 despite the high percentage of returning residents testing positive on arrival. Less than a dozen deaths, the most recent being women aged 90 and 95 in an elderly care home. The gym and pool reopened for a while as part of a general easing of social distancing measures, but closed again in mid-July after a small spike in local transmission. The international media (CNN, BBC, Economist, Financial Times) were very quick to praise Taiwan and New Zealand, even Singapore until its numbers started to go through the roof. But somehow seemed to overlook Hong Kong. Mmm, wonder why.

Ah yes, here could be part of the reason. The big news which put us on the front pages around the world was the decision by the central government in Beijing to impose a national security law in Hong Kong. Under our constitution it was our responsibility to do this for ourselves but in 23 years we simply failed to do so (see my Op Ed column on this). Following the riots and social disorder starting from June last year, with some suspicion of foreign hands involved, the situation could not be allowed to continue. So instead of doing a moderate job we waited until Beijing had to step in and give us a fairly draconian version. The biggest critics were those countries with even tougher national security laws of their own. Patriot Act anyone?