Has Simon Cheng been forgotten? Does he want to be?

By Jerome A. Cohen

Cheng returned home from Shenzhen to Hong Kong Saturday afternoon, apparently by car. The only reports I have since seen noted an understandable request from his family for a period of repose before being subjected to media interviews or other enlightenment of the public about the mysteries surrounding his detention and punishment for allegedly consorting with a prostitute. Has anyone had any subsequent news about the case? Has Cheng emerged? Returned to work at the UK Consulate? Told friends about his ordeal?

Has the media made attempts to interview him or otherwise obtain an explanation of one of the more unusual recent cases of PRC justice? How long can journalists and the public, at home and abroad, be expected to wait? HK must be a far more polite and thoughtful media environment than other cities of comparable size. Will the UK Consulate General issue an explanation? The Hong Kong Government? Cheng’s lawyers? Family or girlfriend?

Is there some widely-shared community expectation that we should forget about this important and curious incident that might tell us a great deal about PRC justice? Should we all act like it never happened? Can anyone recall similar situations? Do people only care about the extent of violent protests in Hong Kong and the US-China economic war? 

I understand the UK Government’s concerns, which is why I did not expect a statement from it, but that is only a part of the overall picture. What inference should the public draw from the eerie silence?

Do Hong Kong people just believe whatever they normally do about such incidents, with PRC sympathizers putting their faith in the China Daily and democrats passing the case off as another instance of phony Communist charges?

And what should the rest of us infer from the strange circumstances? Should we assume that Cheng’s silence means he was indeed guilty of colossal misjudgment -  from several perspectives? Should we assume that he is innocent but willing to accept scandalous defamation and to fall on his sword to avoid further damage to Sino-British relations and HK’s incendiary plight?

And what should we infer from the apparent passivity or lack of interest of the media? Are the London tabloids content with once again raking the Duke of York over the coals? Summer doldrums? Compassion fatigue? Overwork?

Is my impatience unique?