"If you want to read a blog to get a sense of what is going on in Hong Kong these days or a blog that would tell you what life was like living in colonial Hong Kong, this blog, WALTER'S BLOG, fits the bill." Hong Kong Blog Review
"I think we can agree that no police force is perfect, far from it. But at least most turn up when a crime occurs."
The arrest of 51-year-old Darren Brady by Hampshire Police proves that U.K. policing has gone off the rails - as if we needed any.
After all, we have the cautioning of a 14-year-old autistic boy— with threats of two years in jail — for asserting a girl is a girl. The said 'girl' identifies as a boy but dresses and looks like a girl. The list of ridiculous policing goes on.
So while the U.K. police ignore burglaries, thefts and violence, they are more than keen to marshal gangs of officers to intimidate a retired soldier for his opinions.
In an Orwellian twist, the police offered Mr Brady an indoctrination course, which he must fund to avoid arrest. Mr Brady's alleged crime was to re-post an LGBTQ symbol that looks like a swastika.
He declined to follow the re-education directive; hence the police came to arrest him. Fortunately, activist Lawrence Fox and former police officer Harry Miller were waiting to film what happened next. Miller experienced similar treatment from Humberside Police in 2019 and won his case in the High Court. Yet, the lesson didn't reach the clowns in Hampshire.
Fox captured the sorry episode on video, including the arrest of Harry Miller. He confronted the officers to shame them for lack of proper procedures.
As Miller faced arrest, the police asked if he had any weapons. He replied, "I've come armed with my wit and knowledge of the law." And so it proved.
In the face of a barrage of criticism, Hampshire Police released both detained men and acted to drop their 'hate crime awareness' course. The civilian Hampshire Police Commissioner came out to blast the Force, noting that real crimes go unattended.
I know from my 36 years of policing that officers will act as taught, which raises serious questions about the leadership of British policing, their training and how this distorted officer behaviour.
Harry Miller gave an interview (here) that details how the police are now the enforcement arm of the radical trans movement. In this madness that now envelops policing, the ideological zealots are in charge.
On the back of this comes official recognition that British policing is in crisis. But, then again, the public has long known this. In a scathing report, Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS) details the inadequacies and outright neglect of duty.
For example, only six per cent of robberies and four per cent of thefts led to a charge. Often evidence isn't collected, or it's ignored, while the public is left unattended in their moment of need.
I had to laugh when the HMICFRS suggested that officers must attend the scene of burglaries. Doh! That one drives home how far standards of service have slipped.
I think we can agree that no police force is perfect, far from it. But at least most turn up when a crime occurs. In Hong Kong, the police strive for a nine-minute response in urban areas and 15 minutes in rural zones. I saw similar response times during attachments in Singapore, New York and Miami.
In Hong Kong, a typical burglary call will see an immediate response by uniform branch officers. Next, come the crime investigators, scenes of crime experts, and a visit by the crime prevention unit.
And while detections remain a constant challenge, the mere presence of the police acts to reassure the public and deter culprits. But then, again, the Hong Kong Police are well resourced, motivated and focused on getting results.
And that is the crux of the matter. The leaders of British policing have for too long become adept at deflecting criticisms while acquiescing to budget cuts. Also, historical police failures brought changes that diverted officers from a crime-fighting role into quasi-agents of social change—all the nonsense around 'hate crimes' and 'offending people' fed that shift.
Until 2015, the number of theft cases which led to a suspect in court was around 10 per cent. In 2021-22, the rate had fallen to 4.1 per cent. In 2021, for theft from vehicles, the Metropolitan Police brought charges in only 271 cases out of a total of nearly 55,000, a stunning 0.5 per cent.
The Telegraph has revealed that 84 per cent of personal thefts – such as bag snatches – over the past three years had gone undetected.
The root causes of this mess go back decades. Between 2010 and 2017, the police workforce shrunk by almost one-fifth, reducing 21,000 police officers and 24,000 civilian staff. No organisation, however efficient or well-managed, can withstand such a massive loss in personnel without an impact on results.
Today, 22 per cent of detective posts remain unfilled, while one-fifth of officers have less than five years of service. In a profession where experience counts for everything, this is bound to have severe consequences.
What to do about this collapse of policing? How about not arresting and threatening people for having opinions and acting as the enforcement arm of the radical trans-movement (Harry Miller's line, not mine).
How about attending the scene of crimes to gather evidence? How about reducing the influence of academics and their crazy theories that have infiltrated the police colleges? How about listening to the community instead of characterising dissenting voices against the imposed culture as 'racist'?
And finally, how about recruiting the right people, including those without a degree, because policing is a practical skill. After all, a degree in 'Interpretive Dance and Gender Studies' may not be the best grounding to be a crime fighter.
I note all this because, with their willful blindness, U.K. politicians enjoy putting down the Hong Kong Police. While policing here has its critics; nonetheless, we arrive at the scene of an incident and deal with it. Our safe streets tell a story.
It is remarkable that the U.K. police, once seen as the gold standard, has fallen so far. What is also remarkable is that the British public is quiet and accepting of the situation. Is the hive mind so distorted by years of relentless erosion of public services that a sullen populace is silent? At least Miller and others are fighting back.
As Britain heads into winter with energy shortages, rampant inflation and a zombie government, something must give. How long before people realise that the U.K. isn't sanctioning Russia? It's sanctioning itself. How long before people comprehend more cuts are coming to policing and the NHS while prices soar?
All this is beyond belief because British politicians find the time and energy to attack Hong Kong, including policing. There is an extraordinary level of conceit and hypocrisy in their statements.
"Covid and the response mounted to contain it has ripped through the economy; 2500 restaurants closed, the tourist industry collapsed, and many other sectors suffered."
Has Hong Kong lost its mojo? Is the sun setting? Indeed, many believe that Covid restrictions coupled with the polarisation in society following the 2019 protests are driving people away.
Moreover, Covid and the response mounted to contain it has ripped through the economy; 2500 restaurants closed, the tourist industry collapsed, and many other sectors suffered. As a consequence, our GDP is slipping.
In certain quarters a mood of despondency reigns; "Hong Kong is not the same," goes the often heard lament. Well, yes indeed. It's not the same town that greeted me in 1980.
Rampant street crime, people living in precarious hilltop shanty homes, and other social ills are gone. Over time the economy evolved, more kids went into higher education, and we have the highest life expectancy on the planet.
But, our Gini coefficient affirms at 0.53 what we can all see; a considerable gap between the rich and poor. Cage homes and other housing issues blight us. These are issues successive administrations failed to address with any significant impact, and contributed to the unrest we've seen.
Recent data released by the government confirms that Hong Kong's population has fallen by 1.6 per cent. The headlines sought to portray this as an exodus. Yet, migration is one factor in a more complicated picture.
The falling birth rate, deaths, and a lack of arrivals from the Mainland on the one-way permit scheme due to Covid are contributing factors. In the past decade, we've seen net outflows of residents for most years.
Births are at a record low as Hong Kong couples continue to opt out of child-rearing. This fall-off is a worldwide trend typical of emerging middle-class societies. The cost of raising a child, associated hassles and a shift in cultural norms all contribute to this trend. For example, I observed some time ago that Hong Kong women prefer dogs to children.
On the migrant front, some 113,000 residents left the city, heading to the U.K., U.S.A, Canada and other places in the past year. Again, the U.K.'s BNO scheme is a pull factor in that direction. Likewise, generous offers from Canada have found favour.
With many countries in the West suffering labour shortages across multiple disciplines, attracting talent from overseas makes sense. With Brexit the U.K. made the situation worse, hence like the Windrush generation from the Caribbean in the 1950s, Hong Kong people provide a ready supply of manpower.
Another factor at work is Hong Kong's high-pressure education system which many kids find daunting. Modern parents are less likely to endorse the exam-focused, rigid drilling many Hong Kong schools adopt. Having an opportunity to take their kids overseas, they will do that.
If a couple owns a flat in Hong Kong, they can sell up and buy a decent sized house in the U.K. with cash to spare. Going down that road may mean a short-term drop in status to bet on a brighter future.
It's typical to hear of former middle managers heading to the U.K to land a job labouring in a warehouse or stacking shelves. In time these migrants should do well.
In the bigger picture, this is all part of a multi-generational movement that saw Hong Kongers heading overseas since the 1960s. The British Chinese takeaway business started with departures in the 1960s/1970s as New Territories residents moved to Britain. None of these departures collapsed the economy here.
On the expat front, I know several families who've opted to leave or move away from our draconian Covid rules. Disrupted schooling, hotel quarantine and the other impacts of Covid are proving a significant turn-off, especially for those with a young family. They see that life is returning to normal in the U.K., U.S.A, and elsewhere.
And while the loss of talent may have an initial impact, Hong Kong can draw upon the vast population of China. Anecdotal evidence suggests that western educated mainlanders are filling the gaps as expats leave. But, again, this is nothing new as Hong Kong has always drawn people from the north.
Other factors that favour Hong Kong are geography. It sits next to the most significant economic conurbation that continues to grow. Moreover, as a service hub for the Greater Bay Area, our economy will benefit and shift its focus again. So, yes, things are changing.
Former governor Chris Patten remarked, "Never bet against Hong Kong." And on that score, the old tango dancer was right. The sun is setting, but then follows dawn to herald a new day.
Lastly, further relaxing our rigid quarantine rules on travel will help restore confidence that Hong Kong remains an international player.
"Pelosi's visit served no one's interests other than Nancy's"
We may need new words for 'stupidity' because the visit by Nancy Pelosi to Taiwan stretches our everyday vocabulary to the breaking point. To gain her moment in the spotlight, she jeopardised established protocols, the fragile world economy and risked war. But, hey, Nancy doesn't get it or doesn't care.
President Biden cautioned her not to undertake the trip. The U.S. military opposed her visit, and many seasoned diplomats warned her trip would trigger a severe reaction. Beijing long signalled her visit was unacceptable, making transparent that they would act.
Brian Hioe, the editor of New Bloom, a Taiwanese-based online magazine, in a wide ranging interview has highlighted unconfirmed reports that even Taiwanese officials sought to stop the visit. He goes on to note that much of the media coverage needs fact-checking. The international media cites Taiwanese press reports, which are coming from overseas outlets in a cyclic fashion. Once again, reporters are failing to cross-check and verify.
Yet, no matter how you cut it, Pelosi's visit served no one's interests other than Nancy's. In the process, she's eroded China/U.S. relations while endangering people on both sides of the straits.
So, when the times called for cooling actions, Nancy was busy pouring fuel on the fire. And while I know Pelosi will claim she seeks to protect the people of Taiwan, in truth, she's placed them in greater danger.
For egotistical reasons, she's stretched to near failure the foundations of Chinese/U.S. detente that Nixon, Kissinger and Mao established in 1972. These tenets and understandings kept the peace and prevented conflict as China ascended to the world stage.
Unfortunately, the region is less stable now that Pelosi has decided she'd go above such agreements. Hence, Beijing believes the principles it agreed with the US are no longer in play.
Meanwhile, it appears that the U.S. failed to appreciate the strength of feeling in China. Having pushed Beijing into a corner, they've come out swinging with a full rehearsal for an invasion. Moreover, they’ve severed links on tackling organised crime, illegal immigration and climate change.
Further, that Pelosi has ignited Chinese nationalistic fervour is far from helpful. Genuine anger feeds on the narrative that the West seeks to suppress China.
Other Asian nations are watching with increasing disquiet. Yet, they can't afford to take sides and ask was the visit worth it?
Likewise, scholars who understand the nuances, and educated journalists, assert that Pelosi overstepped the mark. Articles in The Spectator, New Statesman, and elsewhere openly question Pelosi's rationale. Even the readers of the Daily Mail are aware that Pelosi is reckless - see the sample comments above.
Elsewhere, Liz Truss, the U.K.'s prime minister candidate, speaking in a debate, made it clear she wouldn't visit Taiwan. At least some politicians get it. I can only conclude that Pelosi is indifferent to reality because she's made the people of Taiwan pawns in her game.
With tension now ramped up, the danger is an accidental clash between an angry, emboldened China and the US. Any conflict would be a disaster; the economic impacts would make the Ukraine war a side-show.
Poor Joe Biden must now deal with the mess created by Pelosi’s swan song tour. As an immediate step, he withdrew the U.S. 7th Fleet and postponed a missile test. No doubt, behind the scenes, assurances by Biden will reach Beijing. It remains to be seen if these get heard.
Pelosi is due to step down soon after over 30 years representing districts in San Francisco. She's profited handsomely from her time in politics with accusations of insider trading.
Lastly, join me in this stroll through her district, and marvel at the impact of Pelosi’s tenure.
Addendum: A reader brought to my attention this interesting exchange between Roger Waters of Pink Floyd and a CNN correspondent. Enjoy.
Walter De Havilland was one of the last of the colonial coppers. He served 35 years in the Royal Hong Kong Police and Hong Kong Police Force. He's long retired.