The Legislative Council in Hong Kong. Photo: www.legco.gov.hk

The world is awash with citizens who repose little or no confidence in their respective governments.

This is hardly surprising when we suffer from a surfeit of narcissistic megalomaniacs, hell bent on securing their lifetime hold on power.

I shall not accord them false dignity by identifying them – we all know who they are.

In the space of a mere 106 years, we have witnessed those of their ilk drive the world into global armed conflict, twice.

Some are sad, some of them mad and virtually all of them are bad.

But allow me to narrow down the focus from the world stage to concentrate on Hong Kong.

Almost overnight, this small but vibrant off-shore Chinese island and its immediate hinterland, has been divested of its precious individuality. Its greatest mark of differentiation from the Chinese mainland is the liberal common law system in which it glorified.

Until the imposition of the National Security Law, the central government of China could point to Hong Kong as a shining example of the magnanimous power of Beijing.

Say what people may of the Chinese Communist Party, it was strong enough and resilient enough to be able to permit 0.57% of its population to think and speak freely, even critically, of the central government.

But now, the elephant has trodden on the flea.

In the fullness of time, the poison that has been introduced into the well of an independent judiciary holding sway over a common law system will work its way into the capillaries of Hong Kong’s body politic, until it is no longer recognisable as the creature that it was.

I may be mistaken, but I have a very clear impression that Chief Executive Carrie Lam is warming the water so that the frog is unaware that it is being cooked.

Over more than a year, barely a sentence has escaped her meanly compressed lips that does not eulogize the central government for something.

She appears incapable of taking any step without first seeking the approval of the central government, in which she receives its oleaginous support.

Having decided to delay the upcoming Legco elections, rather than rely on the express provisions of the Basic Law, she is intent on getting Beijing to appoint the legislators to see the council through to the next election when the term of office of the current batch expires.

The justification for postponing the election is that Covid-19 makes it impracticable.

How decidedly curious. 

The United States with its 331 million people and the world’s worst record of handling the Covid-19 pandemic can hold its presidential election, but Hong Kong’s 7.5 million, who have a sterling health record by comparison, cannot elect its council. 

Would it, for example, be beyond the capabilities of the Hong Kong government to introduce a postal balloting system?

The fact that the pro-Beijing component of the population expect to receive a fearful drubbing at the hands of the electorate cannot be the reason, surely?

The mainland Stasi agents are already in situ and rounding up the academics and students who have expressed opposition to the NSL.

Now, under the pretext of helping Hong Kong to address the Covid-19 pandemic, some 60 “technicians” are being deployed here, nominally to assist with testing.

Now, there is a funny thing. Until very recently, Hong Kong’s record of containing the virus was almost second to none. Our leading epidemiologists have been world-class in their advice and management. I do not recall any of the leading clinicians calling out for assistance.

Listening to the measured response of the Hospital Authority, one cannot escape the feeling that they would have preferred to emulate those who told the workhouse master where to put his Christmas pud.

Indeed, had it not been for Mrs Lam’s stultifyingly stupid decision to exempt some businessmen and all seamen and aircrew from testing and quarantining, it is most probable that the recent spike in infections would not have occurred.

The irrefutably lame excuse that this was a “humanitarian” decision appears, on its surface, to prioritize all these exempt people over the need to protect the citizens of Hong Kong.

Not that I give any credence to it, but it has been suggested that the spike was encouraged in order to give her another excuse to thank the mainland. 

As for the concerns of many people that the additional testing by these  technicians will result in Hong Kongers’ DNA being collected for filing in the mainland, once a government has lost the trust of the governed, people will expect the worst.

The inclusion of mainland commissars, gauleiters, whatever one calls them, at the upper level of government bodies, must lead, inevitably, to their deliberations being conducted in Putonghua.    

The water is getting warmer.

Pity the poor frog.

Read: Let HK’s Covid silenced musicians sing and play

Neville Sarony QC is a noted Hong Kong lawyer with more than 50 years at the Bar.

Asia Times Financial is now live. Linking accurate news, insightful analysis and local knowledge with the ATF China Bond 50 Index, the world's first benchmark cross sector Chinese Bond Indices. Read ATF now.