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‘CITY AGAIN GIVES PEACE A CHANCE’
This morning’s South China Morning Post headline – all in capital letters and positioned above an extraordinary technicolour image of hundreds of umbrella-holding protesters in Victoria Park, Causeway Bay – tells a story within a story. For just as the civil unrest that has gripped the city for the past 11 weeks seemed set for an escalating spiral of violence – and in its wake a major crackdown – this weekend’s mass protest ended without any tear gas or physical clashes between police and demonstrators.
A conciliatory Hong Kong government statement reflected the shift in tone from previous protests. Describing the mass rally (believed to have involved up to 1.7 million people) as “generally peaceful”, the statement said, “The most important thing currently is to restore social order as soon as possible. The government will begin sincere dialogue with the public, mend social rifts and rebuild social harmony when everything has calmed down.”
That might be easier said than done. The protestors’ key demands – including a complete withdrawal of the seemingly abandoned extradition bill and an independent examination of the use of police force – remain unfulfilled. But at least the weekend’s protests went off without injury or damage to property.
All is peaceful too, if not normal, at Hong Kong International Airport (HKIA). I checked in late this morning for my flight to Hong Kong to discover a noticeable but discreet police presence and a long queue outside Terminal 1, with passengers having to show ID and their flight schedules to security staff. But it was efficient and understated rather than intimidating and totally understandable from an Airport Authority Hong Kong perspective after the havoc caused by protesters last week.
Once inside the terminal, it’s very much a case of business as usual, albeit a little quieter perhaps than one would find in normal circumstances. As always at HKIA there are plenty of ‘Opening Soon’ hoardings, such as the ones for Cartier and Miu Miu pictured below. I love the way that Airport Authority Hong Kong never sees its job as done and constantly refreshes its retail and food & beverage offer.
I’ve opened the most temporary of Moodie Davitt Report Interim Bureaux at the Cathay Pacific Bridge Lounge down near gate 42, from where I am boarding for Singapore. This is one of my favourite airport lounges in the world. It offers a lovely view of the airport apron and the spectacle of watching giant Cathay Pacific Airways aircraft park after landing.
All this is set against a backdrop of the lush green-garmented mountains of Lantau Island, encompassing Ngong Ping 360, a spectacular cable car ride that connects Tung Chung with Ngong Ping, high in the hills above and home to the Po Lin Monastery and the Tian Tan Buddha.
A peaceful sight then. And who wouldn’t welcome that after the turmoil of recent weeks?