25 April 2019
Pro-democracy protesters hold up their mobile phones to kick off the Occupy campaign on Aug. 31, 2014. Photo: Reuters
Pro-democracy protesters hold up their mobile phones to kick off the Occupy campaign on Aug. 31, 2014. Photo: Reuters

Don’t forget the anniversary of the 831 Resolution

Leung Chun-ying, who has survived wave after wave of pressure to oust him from power, has been busy seeking a second term — secretly and step by step.

In contrast, his nemeses, including the pan-democrats and the business elites who supported Henry Tang Ying-yan in the last election, are indulging in wishful thinking that Leung will be replaced by Beijing sooner or later.

If they don’t get rid of this “slave’s mindset”, they are bound to repeat their mistake in 2012, when Leung, who had been widely considered a long shot in the race, surprised everyone by beating Tang and getting the top job.

To most Hong Kong people, last year’s Umbrella Revolution was a social movement of immense scale and heroic proportions.

However, in the eyes of the Chinese Communist Party, it was just nickel-and-dime affair, especially when seen in the larger context of the state of affairs across China.

During the 79-day protests not a dumpster on the street was burnt nor a shop window broken; only a few children were reduced to tears. That’s the worst that could ever have happened to the city.

To Beijing, the protesters were just a bunch of wimps and definitely not a force to reckon with.

Compared to other global events, the “unrest” in Hong Kong was just a sideshow.

Next month will mark the first anniversary of the Umbrella Movement, not to mention the first anniversary of the “831 Resolution” which will be upon us in just a few days.

It is understandable that the pan-democrats are deliberately giving this memorable day the cold shoulder because for them, it was a day of humiliation in the fight for democracy.

They probably wish Hong Kong people would forget the entire thing and continue to vote for them in the upcoming elections and rely on them wholeheartedly to achieve democracy.

On the other hand, Leung Chun-ying is marking the run-up to the first anniversary of the “uprising” by beginning to press criminal charges against the four student leaders.

It is obviously a calculated move and the Department of Justice seems to be at his complete disposal.

The fact that Leung is still in the mood to take care of these little things suggests that he is still firmly in power, at least for now.

The prosecution of the student leaders, which is obviously being carried out with sheer malice and at a carefully chosen time, also serves to show Leung’s victory in the struggle against the pan-democrats and student leaders who spearheaded the Occupy Movement.

In fact, not a single individual has ever been sentenced to a jail term for organizing an illegal assembly since the 1980s.

Legislator Wong Yuk-man was once convicted of organizing an unlawful assembly, but he was only given a three-month suspended sentence. After he successfully appealed to the High Court, all he needed to do was to pay a fine.

Therefore, student leaders who are facing criminal charges basically have nothing to worry about except that they might have to bear criminal records once convicted.

However, some of the less well-known or unknown protesters who had taken part in the Occupy Movement as average citizens, and who had been convicted of various other charges, were sentenced much more severely, not least because the pan-democrats had denied any form of association with these frontline protesters and refused to provide them legal assistance.

In fact, the pan-democrats will have a price to pay for turning a blind eye to these so-called “rioters” because once swift and severe sentences have become the norm with the court in dealing with anti-government protesters, the result is likely that the police will get even tougher on them, putting the pan-democrats themselves, who gained their popularity mainly by taking to the streets, on the receiving end.

Undoubtedly, due to the lukewarm response of the pan-democrats and the present stalemate in the pro-democracy movement, August 31 is almost forgotten.

However, will the people of Hong Kong still remain forgetful when September 28 arrives?

People might think I am deeply pessimistic about the future of the pro-democracy movement. I am not.

To the contrary, I have never been more optimistic, as the Occupy Movement has already raised the awareness of our fellow citizens, especially people from the younger the generation, who no longer rely on the hypocritical pan-democrats to get them democracy.

I am sure our future is promising. The “direct actions” spearheaded by gallant and fearless individual protesters have given rise to a new breed of resistance movement, which has caught the Leung Chun-ying administration completely off guard.

While the pan-democrats might regard the upcoming elections as a race to gain more seats, activists of “direct actions” and members of the indigenous faction might see them as an ideal opportunity to get their message of revolution across, and the result could be staggering.

This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on Aug. 25.

Translation by Alan Lee

[Chinese version 中文版]

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HKEJ columnist

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