Amid the New Year festivities over the past few days, many Hongkongers were saddened by the death on Friday of Lam Po-chuen, the voice actor responsible for the Cantonese version of Doraemon for nearly three decades.
For some Hongkongers who grew up with the beloved cartoon cat over the years, the loss of the Doraemon they knew resonates with a nostalgia for their lost dreams for Hong Kong’s political and economic development.
To them, Hong Kong is like Nobi Nobita, the preteen boy who suffered misery and misfortune in the form of poor grades and bullying throughout his young life.
The loss of Doraemon, Nobi’s friend from the future who used the tools in his magic pocket to help the boy face down bullies like his schoolmate Gian, could spell trouble for little Hong Kong.
It can no longer count on the robot cat’s miracle tools to help defend it against bullying from the mainland, cast in the role of Gian.
Doraemon’s inspiring theme song is “Everyone can achieve his dream”.
One of the biggest dreams of Hongkongers is true democracy in the 2017 election for their chief executive.
Hongkongers wish Doraemon could search his magic pocket for a special tool to help them achieve real universal suffrage without any intervention from Beijing and uphold their core values of justice and fairness.
But Hong Kong politics lacks a Doraemon to speak up for true democracy without fear of the leaders in Beijing.
Beijing, like Gian in the cartoon, is determined to bully Hong Kong and damage the “high degree of autonomy” it promised in 1984 when Britain and China signed the joint declaration on the city’s future.
Like Nobi, the students who took part in the 79-day Occupy campaign now need magic and a miracle to achieve their goal of true democracy.
Doraemon could help the students by using one of his magical tools to spread the news about the importance of true democracy and knock down the unfair electoral framework set by Beijing.
In fact, some Hong Kong experts are trying to be a Doraemon during the process of finalizing the roadmap for political reform.
University of Hong Kong law professor Albert Chen Hung-yee recently suggested a veto mechanism for the 2017 election that would allow each voter to cast a blank vote to express an objection to the candidates put forward by the nominating committee.
Such a veto would seem to be like a magic tool from Doraemon’s pocket, granting the people of Hong Kong the right to say “no” to intervention by Beijing in the city’s election.
But in reality, it would still not be able to knock down Beijing’s refusal to allow Hongkongers their right to nominate their preferred candidates for the city’s top post.
What Hongkongers miss, as the Doraemon cartoon series reminds them so well, is justice and fairness and the ability to imagine a better and brighter future.
Hongkongers just wish Doraemon could bring them back to the good old days.
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