Saturday, July 01, 2006

Road Less Travelled

Same road, two parties. Parade in the morning, march in the afternoon. Patriotic before 3pm, opposition after 3pm – nonetheless, they gave the same sweat.

Today is the 9th Anniversary of Hong Kong’s handover, which is the also forth 7-1 March on the streets of Hong Kong, ever since the half a million that was mobilized on 1st July, 2003. The latest figure said about 36,000 to 43,000 joined the March today, and this is ironically contrasted to the figure of 50,000 during the parade in the morning – a parade organized by all the patriotic (or Left, by the Chinese government standard) parties and labor unions, to celebrate their supposedly happiest day of the year.

Of course, joining a March is not about who and how many are in it, but about why you need to speak out, why you need to take it to the street. In 2003 and 2004, it was about the resignation of Mr Tung Chi Wa, the historic but proved-to-be incompetent first Chief Executive of Hong Kong. I missed those two years ‘cause I was in Montreal. Year 2005, after my graduation, I joined. It was about the hope for universal suffrage in the 07-08 year, ‘cause according to some inside source that was promised by the Beijing government way back when the Basic Law was drafted, and 2007 would be the year the second Chief Executive to be elected – or should I say assigned? (I don’t have the source, but I read it in two different newspapers in two different years, so I assume it didn’t come from nowhere.)

This year, same request of Universal Suffrage, without a time frame, I didn’t join. I didn’t join because the so-called democrats in Hong Kong, who are the major supporters of the March in terms of motivating the conscientious HongKongers, seem to be pulling all this off for votes for their party. And I am starting to doubt the meaning of taking it to the streets of Hong Kong – does the government, or China government for that matter, give a crap at all? We – as in the democrats in HK – claimed they did, ‘cause after two years with half a million people marching in the streets, the Mr. Tung resigned (somehow) in 2004. They called it a victory for the people. I call it the ultimate control – Mr. Tung resigned because the Beijing Government thought that instability that involves one fourteenth of HongKongers was deadly, and they needed to do something about it. And note, they didn’t even freak out, they made him sign off his office, gave the title to a dude called Donald Tsang, who happened to be the Chief Secretary back then and had worked for British during colonial times – all happened within a finger snap. To go with it, we added a little overriding of the Basic Law – oh, sorry, reinterpreting the Basic Law – to make sure Mr Tsang would sit in his office for only two years, instead of 5 that was stated IN THE LAW, as the Beijing would like him to go through a little probation so to speak.


In Johnnie To’s latest movie, Election 2, he used the triad as a metaphor for Hong Kong’s political situation. Being the young and upcoming boss in the triad that has believed in democracy by elites (which is Meritocracy, isn’t it?), the main character Louis Koo realized, at the very end of the movie, he was nothing but a calculated step by Beijing to gain the ultimate control of Hong Kong, with the maximum stability. He was “elected”, with the help of some Chinese agents from Canton, to be the man of his gang – if he cooperates with our “motherland”. A painful disillusionment for a man who worships cash and power – which is why Johnnie To uses this as a parallel to Hong Kong and name the movie Election, ‘cause Donald Tsang’s appointment as the Chief Executive is HongKongers’ painful disillusionment. The truth is, the real thug is government.

So in year 2003 and 2004, the Beijing gave a crap about stability in Hong Kong, so taking the streets might make a noise. Today, they don’t give a fxxk. And here are the reasons why: 1. If Beijing actually cared, Donald Tsang wouldn’t be holding a cocktail party this afternoon, telling with his empty words how we could make a change in our economic and business environment and be part of the uprising China; he’d be hiding his head like Tung Chi Wa did back in 2003 – you think a man like Donald doesn’t need to take orders? Who cares about a Harvard master degree here? 2. Beijing got the plans to distract us – the railway to Tibet from the mainland just opened today, and the whole world is after it. Who needs this people on the streets?

However, one thing I know, because when Mrs Anson Chan, the former chief secretary with the “Hong Kong conscience”, stepped onto the streets with the crowd today, she showed us this: no matter whether you are left or right, democrat or not, so long as you live in Hong Kong, your life has now been politicalized. No more escapes from politics from now on, because the woman who wasn’t (supposed to be) involved in democratic movement now step out, telling the crowd what she prefers. Regardless of her intentions (some said she wants to run for the chief executive, and she is making a show for votes), SHE REPRESENTS. And I give her that. And together with the Civic Party that just formed by a bunch of lawyers in Hong Kong, this 7-1 March is no longer driven by the same goal – that’s why I wasn’t there.

Martin Luther King would agree that social movement doesn’t need everyone with the exact same goals – you could ask for a million different things, so long as you different groups marching got one thing in common.


The political environment in Hong Kong is constantly shifting, and apparently it has become less substantial these days when one talks about “democracy” and “universal suffrage”. And I cannot help but to relate this shift we are seeing now to the consumerism-based culture we have in Hong Kong, which makes everything comes and goes so fast. Maybe I’m wrong, and maybe I’m not giving the credits my people deserve. But I am constantly rethinking what it means to take it out on the streets, because I realize there are “reasonable doubts” on either side of the story. So why takes a stand when I am not fully agreeing with it, though I want democracy, while taking stand means I might be categorized?

Today, some travel show on National Geographic asked this white dude what he thinks about Hong Kong, he says “I think it’s a great city to get lost in … if you like to explore.”

He’s right. Cause I’m lost.


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