It was past midnight on a weekend, and I was fast asleep. Suddenly, I was awakened by the sounds of intense quarrelling. It came from a pair who was not related by blood, yet was closer than family, my wife and our godson. They were quarrelling over the controversial extradition bill. Our godson had reached home after 2am, and his godmother had been worried the whole night.
That night, Tseung Kwan O was in chaos. My wife was extremely worried and pestered our godson for his “ETA”. Finally, he came home as if he had not a care in the world, unleashing the wrath of his normally good-tempered godmother. Their quarrel intensified, and I woke up. I heard my godson criticise the police brutality.
He condemned the protestors who, instead of directly confronting the Beijing government, vented their frustrations on innocent Hong Kongers. Today, he stands on the side of the anti-extradition protestors.
My wife and I had agreed to stop discussing these issues with our godson because of my bad temper and hypertension. I initially pretended I was still asleep. Gradually, I realised that my godson was not as extreme as the Hong Kong youths dressed in black (the “black shirts”). He had simply misunderstood the fundamentals of China’s national conditions. I decided to clarify them.
Five years ago, before my godson was 17, he was against Occupy Central. He condemned the protestors who, instead of directly confronting the Beijing government, vented their frustrations on innocent Hong Kongers. Today, he stands on the side of the anti-extradition protestors.
He believes that while we can have different political viewpoints, our differences should not become the basis for violence.
However, in the course of our discussion, he expressed some confusion. A close friend of his from secondary school joined the police force upon graduation and has recently come under fire of his classmates for being a “dirty cop”, but my godson is convinced that this close friend is actually very good at discerning between right and wrong.
He believes that while we can have different political viewpoints, our differences should not become the basis for violence. This is even more true for professionally-trained police officers. If they are unable to control their emotions, they should not work on the front line. While he is disgusted by the dirty cop’s extreme brutality, he reassured us that he would avoid getting caught up in such a situation.
He declared, “This is what Hong Kong has become. There’s no turning back. Don’t wallow in the past. Let nature take its course. Move on with life.”
Once, he was working as a long-distance coach at the Ma On Shan Sports Ground. When he got off from work, he realised that protests had broken out at multiple MTR stations of the Ma On Shan line. He decided to travel by bus to Sai Kung Pier, then take a bus home from there. He mentioned that this was not the first time he had avoided the protests, assuring us he would always find a way out.
He declared, “This is what Hong Kong has become. There’s no turning back. Don’t wallow in the past. Let nature take its course. Move on with life.” His sudden declaration enlightened me. He’s not pessimistic about the future. He just hopes to actively do his part.
By contrast, I’m a pessimist. The entire anti-extradition bill protest is not only a political one, but also a “battle of the cities”. The Beijing government is not in a position to intervene, and the HKSAR is incapable of ending the protests. This “black shirt” protest can only rage on.
For this reason, some pundits believe that it is time to write Hong Kong’s epitaph, as Hong Kong has officially fallen.
To Beijing, unrest in Hong Kong has little effect on national conditions, but has instead reaped a surge of “nationalistic confidence and intense patriotism”. For those on the outside, the “black shirts” are nothing but bargaining chips used by the Trump administration to manipulate the stock market and the ongoing trade war.
The “black shirts” are desperate for external intervention, but even Trump is not expecting much to come of the protests, other than continued chaos. As a result, Hong Kong’s unrest will continue escalating, even if the HKSAR accedes to the five demands and implements “dual universal suffrage”. Even more, the HKSAR will never agree to “retracting the classification of protestors as rioters” and “amnesty for arrested protestors” (two of the five demands). Based on the latest analyses, the unrest will last more than a few months. It could continue for a few years, or even stretch beyond ten years.
For this reason, some pundits believe that it is time to write Hong Kong’s epitaph, as Hong Kong has officially fallen. Because of the foolishness of all sectors in Hong Kong society, from top-level officials to the rebels on the ground, Hong Kong has embarked on a journey towards self-destruction. Officials have been indecisive in their bid to put the brakes on the protests, while the protestors are steeped in foolish acts that accelerate Hong Kong’s destruction.
This will only lead to continued clashes between the police and the “black shirts”, not to mention endless retouches (demolitions) and embellishments (vandalisation) of the retail shops and MTR stations targeted by the “black shirts”. The general public, especially the underprivileged, will be unable to lead normal lives.
The situation is indeed not favourable for the HKSAR. I’m not on the side of the “black shirts”, and this is why I’m pessimistic.
Yellow ribbon academics (pro-democracy supporters of Occupy Central) believe that Hong Kong’s future can go in three directions. The first possibility is that the protests end, a “police state” is normalised, Hong Kong retains its position as a global financial centre, and the powerful continue to plunder. The second is that the protests intensify, a “police state” is normalised, more extreme measures (foreign exchange control, curfew, an Internet ban) are implemented, Hong Kong loses its position as a financial centre, and the powerful incur huge losses. Finally, it is possible that the powerful come to a compromise, a “police state” is moderated, and a portion of the rights Hong Kongers enjoy is reinstated.
Of course the yellow ribbon thinkers hope for the third option. I believe, however, that Hong Kong’s future hinges on the police force’s endurance. The yellow ribbons have been publishing numerous articles that hold competing views of the police force. One view is that the police force has reached its breaking point, while the other is that the police force is holding on, believing that the protests will come to an end.
Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam asserted, “I only have 30 thousand policemen left.” Yet, the yellow ribbons continue to stir emotions. The situation is indeed not favourable for the HKSAR. I’m not on the side of the “black shirts”, and this is why I’m pessimistic.
But my godson heightened my consciousness of a younger generation emerging in Hong Kong whom will soon be succeeded by another generation. The sun will always rise from the east. Hong Kongers should let nature take its course, and let it be.