Midnight Caller

For the English-language readers, this blog will often provide tidbits that appear in the Chinese-language press.  Today's special is a piece of useless information that is nevertheless very logical.

This is election season in Hong Kong, and it is clear that a lot of dirt is being revealed in the press as a result of so-called opposition research.  Some people know that they have skeletons in their closets; others may think they don't but can be surprised by something that they hadn't thought of.  So the universal fear is that telephone call from the press asking for confirmation on a piece of breaking news.

Based upon recent events, the hour of greatest dread is between 11pm and midnight.  If and when the telephone rings at that hour, it is the moment to panic.  Why?  Can't the reporters call at a saner hour?  Blame it on the democrats, of course.

It all began with the arrest of Alex Ho for patronising a prostitute in China (see previous post).  The Chinese authorities did not publicize what was considered to be a routine arrest of a Hong Kong resident.  Several days later, a Hong Kong newspaper caught wind of the incident.  At around 5 pm in the afternoon, a reporter from the newspaper called the Democratic Party candidates on the same list as Alex Ho for comment.  As soon as they got the call, they notified Democratic Party headquarters and a decision was made to hold a press conference immediately in order to minimize the damage.  Thus, at 9 pm that evening, the Democratic Party held their initial press conference to denounce political persecution in the frame-up of Alex Ho in order to influence public opinion.  That newspaper's exclusive report had been pre-empted.  The Democratic Party would later have to withdraw that claim when detailed information on Alex Ho emerged.

This sequence of events became well known.  From here on, any newspaper reporter working on an exclusive knows not to call early in the day because that exclusive will likely be lost.  So when the story about James To came up (see previous post), the newspaper reporter called him late in the evening for comment.  By then, it was too late for James To to call a press conference to pre-empt that exclusive.

According to the Roadside News Agency (=rumor mill), there is another scandal about to break concerning an extramarital affair of a prominent Democratic Party candidate, fully illustrated with photographs.  It is said that the individual has fallen sick because he/she was so worried about that midnight telephone call.