So the violence escalated this week following the death of a Hong Kong student. This column has warned about the inevitability of deaths if the violence was allowed to continue and escalate. With arrows, petrol bombs, sabotages of transport infrastructure and mass arson, it would be a real miracle if no one gets killed. In fact, I fear we will soon be getting a mass casualty situation when fire spreads through a building and kills everyone in it. Watch this space.
But today I want to make two points. First, Hong Kong is not equipped to handle the current security situation. With defence left with Beijing under the One Country Two Systems agreement, the Hong Kong police is not equipped and trained to handle what is no longer a simple civilian protest.
The use of water cannons, rubber bullets and tear gas is only effective to quell isolated social unrest or one-off mass protests. What the movement has evolved into is a military operation, well planned and funded. Which can sustain multi-front and long-term attacks. It is guerilla warfare planned with military intent and precision, supported by deadly weapons.
It is no longer a one-off protest but a massive operation mounted from different locations, meant to disrupt a city. It has backing of a financier or financiers, weapon manufacturing capability, communication networks, intelligence collection and more important, thousands of vicious, brave foot soldiers willing to kill. What do you think you should do when the enemy is overpowering you in terms of numbers and weaponry?
So Hong Kong and Beijing leaders have one decision to make – is it time to declare war. This is a military operation that requires military options. We are talking helicopter mounted weapons, tanks, armoured vehicles, snipers, infantry men (Yes live rounds) , intelligence gathering, aerial surveillance ( drones and radar) and disruption of enemy’s telecommunication networks and logistics supply, cutting off the HQ meaning taking out the gang leaders and their backers. And most important, the option to exterminate. Yes, licence to kill. Hongkongers will have to decide if the time has arrived. If you still don’t get what I am talking about, yes, the time for PLA to arrive. Remember, power comes from the barrel of the gun. It is either some deaths now to end the crisis early, or more deaths in a long drawn out conflict. My guess is the unelected Hong Kong civil-servant-trained leadership without a direct mandate does not have the moral authority and courage to do it.
Second, I do feel sad for Hong Kong. It has become one of the most unfortunate and unnecessary political conflicts in recent years. For decades being a pace setter for Singapore economic development, the territory ironically has one of the best governments in the world, in terms of competence, transparency and governance. It is also unfortunate that Hong Kong civil servants are some of the world’s finest, incorruptible, able, eloquent and always looking at what they can do for the people. Year in, year out, they are ranked among the top in the world for economic freedom, rule of law, civil service competence, press freedom, political stability, making them one of the most attractive destinations for investments and tourism. I do not think any of the other liberal democracies including in the USA, Europe or Asia come close to them. So then, what exactly are the freedom fighters asking for if they already have a better Government and freer society than many places?
The only thing they are lacking then is the vote. Self-determination without independence. I say, Beijing, give them universal suffrage. Let them vote for their own Chief Executive and legislature. I bet you to the last dollar, they will still not solve most of their major socioeconomic problems, most which are global in nature. Martin Lee, Joshua Wong, or for that matter anyone in Hong Kong, would not be able to solve anything without the support of the central government and mainlanders. They would not be able to run a highly politicized and divided Hong Kong society. By then, they would have no one but only themselves to blame.