22 October 2016
We are in dire need of a new commemorative day that can resonate with the majority of Hong Kong people and remind us of our unfinished task. Photo: HKEJ
We are in dire need of a new commemorative day that can resonate with the majority of Hong Kong people and remind us of our unfinished task. Photo: HKEJ

A commemorative day that truly belongs to us

Although several activities were held to commemorate the first anniversary of the Occupy Movement, there was not much worth mentioning about those activities.

What a cowardly move for the pan-democrats to just stage a so-called “peaceful gathering” outside the government headquarters in Admiralty to remind people of that monumental day that has changed the course of our history forever.

What they did would only make themselves the laughing stock of the “valorous faction”.

Sadly, the “valorous faction” themselves were in no position to mock the pan-democrats because they didn’t even bother to come out and commemorate the historic event.

In fact, I have proposed in my earlier column that the pan-democrats should occupy a section of Harcourt Road for two hours on Sept. 28 and stage a sit-in protest, with or without the permission of the police, as an act of civil disobedience to demonstrate our determination to defend our freedom of assembly, a right guaranteed under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

Unfortunately, as expected, the pan-democratic wimps didn’t have the guts to do so, probably out of concern about the low turnout or that things could have got out of control.

Hong Kong people have been notorious for being calculating, and they are good at being calculating on basically everything in their daily lives.

They tend to swim with the tide on important issues and would always avoid standing up and being counted at the critical moment in order to stay away from trouble. Our politicians are definitely masters of this art form.

However, the Occupy Movement changed everything, and defied the conventional understanding of the character of the Hong Kong people.

It was during the Occupy Movement that hundreds of thousands of average citizens put aside their self-interest and took to the streets of their own accord to express their indignation at the prevailing political and social injustice.

It was also during the 79-day movement that citizens demonstrated remarkable courage and solidarity and showed to the world that we were no pushover in the face of tyranny.

Every great nation has its own commemorative day to honor great events that shaped the course of its history, and I believe Hong Kong should have its own commemorative day to affirm and reinforce our collective memories that can provide every one of us with a real sense of heritage and identity.

Since the Occupy Movement has changed the course of history in our city and raised the political awareness of an entire generation, I believe Sept. 28, the day the movement began, should be fixed as a commemorative day that truly belongs to the people of Hong Kong.

For a long time, June 4 and July 1 have been used by traditional pro-democracy activists as the two most important commemorative days throughout the year.

However, with the rise of nativism and the “Hong Kong identity” in the wake of the Occupy Movement, many in our city, especially young people, are finding June 4 and July 1 increasingly irrelevant.

They regard them as the legacies of old-school social activists, which explains why the turnout for the June 4 candlelight vigil and the July 1 march is continually on the decrease in recent years.

Therefore, in order to revitalize the pro-democracy movement and keep our sense of identity growing, we are in dire need of a new commemorative day that can resonate with the majority of Hong Kong people and remind us of our unfinished task.

And there is certainly no better choice than Sept. 28, the day when our civic consciousness and our courage to topple the status quo truly awakened.

The meaning of what happened on Sept. 28 last year went far beyond the mere occupation of several main streets in the city.

Rather, it marked the beginning of a new chapter in our history, a chapter in our citizens will no longer rely on the bunch of hypocritical pan-democrats to fight for their democracy and are determined to take the future into their own hands even if their action may lead to bloodshed and persecution.

The 79-day Occupy Movement also exploded the myth of the Communist Party, and let us know that it is not actually as ferocious and fearsome as we used to think.

The fact that it didn’t send in the People’s Liberation Army to suppress the crowd like it did in Tiananmen Square in 1989 suggested that even the Communist Party has its limitations and worries.

If it has its limitations, that means it can be beaten, and when it can be beaten, that means there is still hope.

The reason why Beijing was showing exceptional restraint during the Occupy Movement is simple: our city’s status as the only international financial hub on Chinese soil is still irreplaceable, and, therefore, peace and stability in the city would take priority over everything else under all circumstances.

The Occupy Movement might be over for now, but it would be naïve for anyone to think that the clock could be turned back as if the movement had never happened at all.

No one, no matter how powerful he might be, would be able to put the genie back into the bottle again.

While Sept. 28 marked the beginning of a new breed of resistance movement against tyranny, in which the average individual, rather than politicians, takes the center stage, it also marked the end of an era in which the pan-democrats had a monopoly on the pro-democracy movement.

It has proven that these political opportunists have turned so corrupt and decadent in recent years that they have already lost their will to fight on, and all they are concerned about right now is how to hang on to their political office and raise more money for their retirement.

Sooner or later they are going to lose their place in history. Sept. 28 was just one more nail in their coffin.

This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on Sept. 29.

Translation by Alan Lee

[Chinese version 中文版]

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HKEJ columnist

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