“When you wake in bed
Shift your lazy head
Open up the window look below you,
Do not spend the day
Sleeping hours away
Nature has a lot of things to show you.”
These are the opening lines of a song written by my father, Leslie Sarony in 1930, 12 years after the end of WW1 and nine before the start of WW2, a fateful 21 days.
These days, waking is to the latest idiocy by Trump and stultifying inadequacy of Theresa May. What are these people and their ilk, Erdogan, Orban, Putin, Xi, Maduro and the lunatic Carrie Lam et al doing to our world?
Cole Porter’s lyrics to “Anything goes” suddenly seem entirely apt
“The world’s mad today
And good’s bad today
And black’s white today
And day’s night today…”
Given that some of these alien creatures were actually voted into their positions of omnipotence, the question that springs to mind is has the world lost its collective sense?
Even the least democratic Athenian philosophers like Socrates and Plato recognized that for any society of humans to live in peace with each other there had to be a fundamental consensus of right and wrong, justice and injustice.
Twenty-five centuries later, the world of humans appears to have lost its global moral compass.
Two striking recent illustrations serve to make the point: Hong Kong’s Chief Executive Carrie Lam denied that no extradition agreement was written into the Basic Law of HKSAR because of concerns that Mainland China’s criminal legal system was – and regrettably still is – incompatible with that of Hong Kong. When Ms. Lam was rightly accused of telling lies, it was her accuser who was ejected from the Legislative Council chamber.
US President Donald Trump claims that the tariffs he has imposed on Chinese goods imported into the USA are being paid by the Chinese and when he is corrected by his Director of the National Economic Council, Larry Kudlow, he persists in what is self-evidently not true. But we’ve been there before, with the Mexicans paying “unknowingly” for his wall.
Macbeth must have had remarkable foresight, Trump:
“…is a poor player
That struts and frets his part upon the stage
And then is heard no more, It is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Would that it did signify nothing but, with an increasing sense of unease, this mentally immature, mercurial multi-bankrupt looks as though he has declared war on the world as we know it.
A mere 21 years ago, albeit shedding its colonial carapace, Hong Kong was a vibrant, multi-cultural entity endowed with the most advanced legal and financial establishments in Asia. It was a place where the young grew up with hope and confidence about what the future held for them. Just as Paul McCartney sang, they “believed in yesterday.”
In what must be one of the most incongruous contradictions, the aged omnipotens, in the words of the Russian director Lev Dudin, are experiencing another tragedy, the failure of human memory, whereas governed youth draws on history’s disasters.
In the UK the likes of politicians Boris Johnson and Jacob Rees-Mogg yearn for a mythical past, ignoring that the world has progressed and become inextricably interdependent. How wonderful it would be if they were to suddenly wake up to their folly and give us a Little Night Music:
“Don’t you love farce?
My fault, I fear,
I thought that you’d want what I want,
Sorry, my dear…”
Yet we are hoist with these inexcusable clowns.
Brexiters invoke the Dunkirk Spirit, arguing “We were alone but we fought on.” In fact, of course, Britain was supported by the people of India, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong and the African colonies. As no man is an island, so no country can divorce itself from the rest of the world. As my father wrote in another song:
“You can get along without a lot of things in this world
But you can’t get along without friends.”
It seems that Hong Kong’s property developers and major business tycoons who curry favor with Beijing have forgotten that Hong Kong owes much of its success to those who fled from the “Liberation” in 1949 and the self-destructive Cultural Revolution.
In many ways, Hong Kong is the greatest refugee success story of all time. The flight from the vicious excesses of the Chinese Communist Party to a refuge which was synonymous with hope for a better life under the rule of law, nurtured the city as it has been until recent years.
How, then, can the educated, informed Hongkonger contemplate with equilibrium the prospect of suddenly being extradited to an alien legal system devoid of all the safeguards to which he or she regards as their fundamental right?
How, one is compelled to ask rhetorically, can a Secretary for Justice, schooled in the liberal common law system of justice, reconcile a statutory change that introduces a poison into Hong Kong’s body of law?
Ignorance of the law is no excuse but what if the law is open to a broad spectrum of interpretations at the whim of the ruling Chinese establishment? Mainland China’s laws are on the books but deliberately ignored, flouting the basic requirement of a civilized legal system that the law shall be sufficiently certain for a citizen to know what is or is not legal.
Nor is the judiciary a safeguard against the proposed legislation, extradition is primarily a political procedure which renders due legal process more a rubber stamp.
Carrie Lam plainly perceives her primary responsibility as “loving the Chinese Communist Party” as demanded by Xi Jinping whereas it ought to be to protect the vital interests of the people of Hong Kong.
Now, when Hongkongers think of a Chief Executive, they wish, wistfully, in the lovely lyrics of George Gershwin:
“There’s a somebody I’m longin’ to see
I hope that she turns out to be
Someone who’ll watch over me.”