29 February 2020
Leung Chun-ying (inset) is giving Hong Kong's youths a choice between South Korean pop stars such as Girls Generation (L) and riot police. Photos: Facebook, HKEJ
Leung Chun-ying (inset) is giving Hong Kong's youths a choice between South Korean pop stars such as Girls Generation (L) and riot police. Photos: Facebook, HKEJ

Korean pop stars not the answer to Occupy campaign

While thousands of police were busy clearing the protest zone in Mong Kok Wednesday, Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying left the troubles to his team and fled to South Korea on an official visit.

There he came up with the idea of inviting Korean pop stars to perform in Hong Kong to please the city’s youth.

Yet again, Leung has missed the point.

Leung said Hong Kong should cooperate with South Korea in creative industries, urging Korean filmmakers to partner with their Hong Kong counterparts to enter the mainland Chinese market.

He also expressed his willingness to have more Korean pop stars perform in Hong Kong, which he hopes will help him win back some support among the youngsters.

But the idea is simplistic and naive. No matter how popular the singers are, Hong Kong’s youth won’t be taken in by the government’s tactics.

In fact, young Hongkongers won’t simply embrace performers whom the government exploits to deflect attention from its wrongdoings.

Several years ago, pop singers from South Korea regretted taking part in a concert in Hong Kong sponsored by the government in an attempt to divert people from joining a pro-democracy march.

Given the widespread use of social media among youth today, Korean stars might give any Hong Kong government-sponsored shows a wide berth to avoid embarrassing themselves in front of their fans.

What the younger generation seeks is fairness and justice, not only in the 2017 electoral package but also in how the government implements its policies.

However, the Hong Kong and Beijing authorities are keen to shift the focus away from political issues.

Leung’s brainwave about inviting more Korean pop stars to Hong Kong fails to respond to what the youngsters desire.

It is a transparent attempt to distract them from politically sensitive issues.

As Dr. Sun Yat-Sen said, politics is what involves all the people. That means all matters in society can be political issues.

Leung seems to fail to understand that his low popularity among young people does not relate just to his stance on the 2017 electoral reform but stems also from how he runs the Hong Kong government and handles relations between the city and Beijing.

If the government took the youngsters’ opinions seriously, it shouldn’t have arrested student leaders Joshua Wong and Lester Shum on Wednesday.

Instead, Leung should listen to their appeal for true democracy, which gives each person the right to nominate the candidates for chief executive, and respond to it in a positive way.

Some pro-Beijing politicians said many Hongkongers, fearful of the younger generation’s aggressive political views, are considering emigration.

But these politicians are confused about one thing, which is that the present deadlock is mainly due to Beijing tightening its control over Hong Kong’s internal affairs, blurring the line that is central to the principle of “one country, two systems”.

The youngsters are just doing the right thing in their effort to keep the line clear and maintain the uniqueness of Hong Kong, at least until 2047.

The Mong Kok conflict has further widened the gulf between the young people and the government, which abused its power by using violence against some protesters without any convincing reason.

That will worsen the deep-rooted mistrust between the people and the government.

It won’t be healed until officials admit their wrongdoing and introduce a more transparent and democratic system of government.

Hong Kong’s young people have established their own identity as Hongkongers rather than just citizens under the rule of China.

They don’t agree with the government’s attempts to impose integration of Hong Kong with the mainland.

The government claims it has done well with its youth policy. But youth policy is not just about hosting foreign singers at pop concerts.

What the youngsters want is fairness and justice in their society, as well as a transparent and democratic government.

Can Leung hear the young people sing?

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EJ Insight writer