There is nothing more depressing than reading a commentary in a leading Hong Kong newspaper that reads, “The sun may rise, but there’s no hope for democracy”.
The price of democracy is high. Ask any white collar worker who has spent at least an hour in a traffic jam during the past three weeks, or a waiter who bussed tables in Central, or an ordinary resident in Causeway Bay or Mong Kok.
You might hear them say: “You can do anything, but please don’t disturb others”.
All will be forgiven when the protest ends or — in the best and likely scenario — it becomes a democracy movement embraced by all.
That would be the kind that would explain why Hong Kong people would welcome intervention by anyone except China.
On the eve of talks between student leaders and government representatives, we are recounting what the movement has achieved in the most positive light because this is something you can tell your grandchildren – and something you would miss.
First and foremost, clean air.
When was the last time you breathed fresh air in Central? Or enjoyed clear skies for days on end?
Second, a healthier lifestyle. Walking to work with clean, fresh air in your face in the early morning is good for body and soul. Let’s keep going.
Third, ever worried where your teenagers have been hanging around but were afraid to ask?
Now you know where they are — in tents in the street or on the last MTR ride home. I saw some attending street classes (not clashes). You don’t see these sights every day.
In the 1990s, you only needed a wife, a kid, a house and a car to be happy.
Guess what? Now you need just four basic things — umbrella, water, mask and tent and you will be equally happy.
Of course, a Starbucks coffee or a McDonald fish o-filet would be nice. Most protesters have these on their Facebook wish list.
But think big. Do you want prosperity and stability or democracy?
You would find that prosperity is inherent in entrepreneurial democracies that have a strong social fabric built on income, the environment, education, healthcare and quality of life.
That makes Hong Kong special, a model for the rest of China.
It is all worth it.
Sure, different people have different opinions about the student movement and how it’s supposed to be impacting Hong Kong in a very negative way.
But the facts speak for themselves.
Hong Kong people still have confidence in their fair city, so do investors (yuan deposits are up). The property market, especially new housing, remains strong.
There have been no ratings downgrade and stocks have been resilient. There are as many stocks that have gained during the first three weeks of the protest as those that have lost.
The share price of Chow Tai Fook Jewellery has gone up in the past three weeks.
Things can’t be all that bad.
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