Hong Kong’s ‘Dark Corner’ cops are enjoying a lucrative spot of paid leave since being jailed for beating a social worker during the Occupy protests.
There are few occupations where you can be convicted and jailed for committing a crime during office hours and still get to keep your job. There’s even fewer where you can expect to finish your sentence as a wealthy man.
But that’s the fate of our seven comrades who were jailed for two years each last month for the beating of water-splashing hipster Ken Tsang Kin-chiu, with their reward fund already exceeding HK$20 million.
In the movie I Corrupt All Cops, by B-movie film factory Wong Jing, a tough, bad-ass Chief Inspector leads a gang of thuggish detectives to beat and bully their way to a fortune. But one of their number (Anthony Wong) seeks redemption by joining the ICAC, helping wipe out the menace of corruption from the force.
That clampdown provoked mass disturbances, as thousands of police took to the streets, angry at being victims of an unsympathetic justice system.
How things change. Four decades later, we all know the news footage of a tough, bad-ass Chief Inspector who lead a gang of thuggish cops to beat and bully a social worker, making buckets of cash in the process. And once again, thousands of police turned out to protest, angry at being victims of an unsympathetic justice system.
There’s one more link between Wong Jing’s movie and reality. In the movie, Anthony Wong’s vengeful former colleagues murder him. In real life, Wong supported the Umbrella Movement, and a vengeful film industry, lead by his friend Wong Jing, did their best to kill off his film career.
A moment of sympathy for the victims
Now I will bow to no man in my love of the Disciplined Services. The police didn’t ask to be stuck on the front lines facing down frustrated protesters for three months, working overtime, with no leave, suffering abuse on their Facebook accounts or running round Mongkok on futile shopping trips. Is it any wonder they’re unhappy?
If it wasn’t for our inept chief executive deploying them as political chess pieces, they could have cleared the streets in a couple of weeks and been back in Wanchai, playing pool and eating noodles. But Comrade Leung decided that to achieve victory, he must keep the roads blocked, to sow dissent among the enemy, demoralise the masses and have them reject the subversive promises of democracy.
But that didn’t really happen.
But only a moment
Since Occupy, the Party has had to work overtime to clear up the public relations mess. The United Front have whipped up a fine fervour among our loyalist forces, but despite all our best efforts (and a lot of seafood dinners), the enthusiasm just hasn’t been shared by the masses.
As 30,000 police and their families decried their miserable lot in Mongkok, it looked like we might finally be getting somewhere. But then seven of our most patriotic organisations organised a public candlelit vigil last weekend and only 400 people turned up.
The truth is, the seven jailed officers have made us all look like the bad cops in an ’80s gangster movie. They might still have support among our more dedicated loyalists, but there seems to be little sympathy for them among the masses. I certainly don’t. If they really wanted to go beating up democrats, that’s fine; it’s a time-honoured tradition of the Motherland. But to do it in front of television cameras was just idiotic.
Is it any wonder that the masses have become cynical? Comparing the suffering of the police with that of the jews in the holocaust probably didn’t help either.
Sympathy comes with a price tag
Now let’s get back to the money. By this week, patriotic tycoons, business organisations and comrades from the entertainment, propaganda and taxi industries had stumped up over HK$20,000,000 to support the convicted officers. One of the biggest cheques came from a party of celebrities, including Wong Jing, producer of I Corrupt All Cops, who donated HK$7,777,777.
Seven is of course the number of men convicted, and a Cantonese euphemism for penis, as I was reminded by Comrade Wengde, the lovely barmaid at the Westpoint clubhouse. But I digress.
The APO Relief Fund has reportedly rejected some of the offers, due to the donors’ connections with the criminal fraternity. The fund won’t name which of its supporters might be a triad, but between you, me and a nasty chopper attack, we all know who they are. A police spokesman said something along the lines of “Wait a moment, let’s not do anything rash,” and promised to think about it. This reluctance to accept money from thugs is an ironic gesture, when you consider who the money’s intended for.
The triads aren’t the only dodgy donors. A Party princeling even put out a RMB10,000 contract to beat up the judge, which probably wouldn’t help the planned appeal.
HK$20 million is no small sum, but no doubt APO founder Maria Tam Wai-chu will have shaken the cup for a few more renminbi while she was at the National People’s Congress in Beijing this week, intimidating any Electoral Committee swing-voters into supporting Comrade Nanny.
Perhaps APO’s billionaires are unaware of how little we pay police on the beat. The starting salary for a junior constable can be as little as HK$22,000 a month. If the funds raised so far are split evenly, that’s the equivalent of 11 years’ salary for a junior officer, or about 18 months for an experienced senior inspector.
Meanwhile, the APO fund’s crowd-funding campaign hasn’t been quite so successful. Last time I checked, the website had raised just HK$140,000 from the public. Even the lovely Leticia Lee See-yin can do better than that.