Date
23 November 2017
Mainlanders wait in line with their goods. Parallel trading is a socio-economic issue no different from other public concerns such as property prices, working hours and pensions.   Photo: AFP
Mainlanders wait in line with their goods. Parallel trading is a socio-economic issue no different from other public concerns such as property prices, working hours and pensions. Photo: AFP

Simple folk, not politicians, can bring about real change

In recent months, I have written a few articles on Hong Kong independence.

I wanted to remind people to stay alert to the verbal traps of the Chinese Communist Party which tends to define any action it doesn’t like as an “attempt to seek Hong Kong’s independence”.

It does not matter whether these “attempts” are related to democracy, autonomy or parallel trading.

Anyone who is afraid of being labeled “pro-independence” should not be here. After all, the topic of Hong Kong independence goes to the heart of the struggle for free speech.

The right to free expression gives Hong Kong people the strength to stand up to the Communist Party but the choice is theirs to make.

They can choose to be subservient or they can speak out such as talk about independence whenever and wherever they want.   

The worst Beijing can do is threaten us with Article 23 (the proposed national security law) or simply put us behind bars.

Veteran political commentator Li Yi  is right to say democracy has a price. 

“Let’s go to jail then. After all, there is a price to pay in fighting for democracy,” he said when asked about the danger of political persecution.

I hope more intellectuals will come forward and show the same kind of fortitude.

But the fact is Hong Kong people are not inciting independence. The whole thing is a ruse by some loyalists eager to ingratiate themselves with Beijing.

In his report to the National People’s Congress, chairman Zhang Dejiang refrained from mentioning the so-called “pro-independence” movement in Hong Kong.

He did talk about it briefly behind closed doors, according to reports. The reason can only be that it’s a non-issue for him.

Which makes the tenuous link being made by certain people between recent anti-parallel trade protests and the purported pro-independence movement even more ludicrous.

Parallel trading is a socio-economic issue no different from other public concerns such as working hours, pensions, property prices — even burial grounds.

Discussing them or doing something about them is not fomenting independence.

As I have said in a previous article, the only thing dictators are afraid of is an uprising.

The anti-parallel trade protests have taken place for five consecutive Sundays and almost all of them have ended in brutal suppression and random arrests.

But Leung Chun-ying’s government doesn’t get it.

There are probably more provacateurs and trouble makers in these demonstrations than legitimate protesters.

Even the pro-democracy media has condemned these protests and pan-democrat politicians have distanced themselves from the demonstrations.

The principle behind these “direct actions” is simple: to create social pressure on the authorities in order to change the status quo by raising public awareness through radical actions.

In fact, the reason ordinary Hong Kong citizens go to great lengths to defend their rights and way of life is that their so-called public representatives, including pan-democrats, keep turning a blind eye to the pressing problems plaguing society.

These hypocritical politicians, whether they are pro-establishment or pro-democracy, seem more concerned with keeping their seats than doing their public duty. They should be ashamed of themselves for failing to do their job.

With no one to turn to for help, our fellow citizens have no choice but to join forces.

These are simple folk we see in meaningful, peaceful mass actions, with no pretensions to greatness or political office. They’re the ones who can truly bring about change in Hong Kong.

The article first appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on Mar 9. [Chinese version 中文版]

Translation by Alan Lee

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RA

HKEJ columnist

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