23 February 2019
Tat Ming Pair (left) launched 'Ten Youngsters Who Put Out The Fire' in 1990. The 2009 movie Bodyguards And Assassins is about the great nationalist Sun Yat-sen. Photo: Internet
Tat Ming Pair (left) launched 'Ten Youngsters Who Put Out The Fire' in 1990. The 2009 movie Bodyguards And Assassins is about the great nationalist Sun Yat-sen. Photo: Internet

Occupy Central: A song, a movie and the weather

If there is a song to describe the mood in the Occupy Central movement, it would be Tat Ming Pair’s “Ten Youngsters Who Put Out The Fire”, a 1990 cantopop hit.

The song is about 10 young men who are keen to put out fires but most end up going nowhere near them. The three who fight the blaze die. 

It ends with the line “10 minus one equals nine, nine minus one equals eight, one minus one equals zero”.

The song is said to describe the mood in Hong Kong after the June 4, 1989 Tiananmen crackdown when people were torn between staying and leaving in fear of a wider communist backlash.

It must be heartbreaking for Occupy Central to ponder that line, which encapsulates ebbing public support for the civil disobedience movement.

Among the 10 co-founders, two have already lost their fervor.

First was Tony Tsoi Tung-ho, who chose to close his House News, a popular website critical of Beijing, rather than deal with political pressure.

Then hedge fund manager Edward Chin Chi-kin made headlines when his long-running column was axed by the Hong Kong Economic Journal.

Both still write for other publications but not so much on politics for obvious reasons.

On Wednesday, Tsui Siu-wah quit the movement, saying he does not believe in fighting for democracy by illegal means, referencing Occupy Central’s planned shutdown of Central to protest an election reform package from China which the group has dismissed as a sham.

Tsui’s decision, which went high profile after he gave an interview to Ming Pao Daily, stoked fears of political persecution of pro-democracy supporters in Hong Kong and in the mainland, affecting their businesses.

While we’re in analogy mode, we’re reminded of the historical movie Bodyguards And Assassins which tells the story of a group of patriots trying to overthrow the corrupt and crumbling Qing dynasty while supporting the great nationalist Sun Yat-sen.

Dr. Sun goes on to establish the Republic of China but not without the sacrifices of the patriots who all die on the battlefield.

That’s right. The movie, whose Chinese name is Siege And Surrender Of The City In October, marks a most sensitive time of the year punctuated by revolutions and stock market crashes.

There’s talk Occupy Central will launch its civil disobedience campaign on Oct. 2, a Thursday. That’s a day after the Chinese National Day.

The protest could last until Friday and beyond but that’s when its effect would be felt the least because of the holidays, in which case many Hongkongers might be out of town.

That presents a window of opportunity for potential negotiations between the opposing camps.

As if there wasn’t enough distraction, cross-border stock trading between Hong Kong and Shanghai may start any Monday in October.

The liquidity flow to Hong Kong could flood Central where many people are financially geared, making a shutdown of the financial district counter-intuitive and politically disastrous.

There’s another negative factor: typhoon-prone Hong Kong has not seen bad weather this summer which seems to go on forever. When the typhoon season arrives, it could be well into September or early October. That would be a dampener for Occupy Central.

With organizer Benny Tai admitting a strategic failure and loss of public support for the movement, the government must be humming its own tune.

How about Happy Days Are Here Again?

Related stories:

Occupy Central die-hard quits, sparks white terror fears

Beijing sees Hong Kong as national security threat

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EJ Insight writer

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