28 October 2016
Hong Kong's future is full of uncertainty under Beijing's rule. Perhaps the worst is yet to come. Photo: Facebook
Hong Kong's future is full of uncertainty under Beijing's rule. Perhaps the worst is yet to come. Photo: Facebook

Back to the future in HK political arena

The future has finally arrived!

Thirty years ago, President Xi Jinping was in the prime of his youth, Queen Elizabeth was about to turn 60, David Cameron was a teenager and Leung Chun-ying was a young man building a career in the real estate business.

Yesterday, Oct. 21, 2015, was the exact date that Michael J. Fox’s Marty McFly and Christopher Lloyd’s Doc Brown traveled into in the sci-fi comedy film Back To The Future.

In the movie, McFly is greeted with flying cars and hovering skateboards, but in the real future, which is now, the scenes are equally astounding.

Consider what’s happened. The Chinese and the British are friends again after hostile talks over the future of Hong Kong in 1984. They are now holding hands as they look into what they call the “golden era” of their relationship.

Imagine all the sweeping changes that have happened in just three decades, not the least of which is China’s amazing rise in wealth and power. The once formidable Soviet Union is no more; Germany has long been reunited, along with the crumbling of the wall that separated East and West Berlin; and the leaders of the United States, Britain and, just a couple of days ago, Canada are getting younger and younger.

Well, except for Hong Kong, where the three chief executives took their office at age 60.

Doc Brown says in the movie: “Where we are going we don’t need roads”. And as far as Hong Kong is concerned, that’s probably the reason why we’re not making much progress in our long journey to democracy.

Who could have imagined CY Leung rising to Hong Kong’s pinnacle of power, well buttressed by his Beijing overlords, when in fact he also voiced out his opposition against China’s clampdown of the student protesters at Tiananmen Square in June 1989?

Even in 2012, when his election rival Henry Tang Ying-yen revealed that Leung had suggested the use of riot police and tear gas against those protesting against the proposed national security law, no one had thought the suggestion would be implemented two years later.

As a result, Leung has become Beijing’s golden boy, a patriot ready to defend his country against all threats, including fellow Hongkongers who only want the central government to fulfill the promises contained in the Basic Law.

And due to CY’s political emergence, it was Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor who took over as chief secretary, succeeding Stephen Lam Sui-lung. 

Mr. Lam went on to study theology under God’s care, while Mrs. Lam spent the last three years defending her subordinates and assailing politicians for asking her subordinates to drink contaminated water.

It is said that half of what was predicted in the Back To The Future movies came true. That included the noiseless car, video calls and home video games. The world is also making giant strides in the direction of self-stringing shoes and junk-to-fuel engine shown in the movie.

One thing it did not foretell was the global phenomenon of social media, which not only brought people closer but, in some cases, overthrew unpopular regimes.

But no matter how technology advances, it seems that some things never change, such as the use of tear gas and truncheons to suppress student movements.

What will Hong Kong become 30 years from now? Probably not many Hongkongers will dare to make a guess, given the current “one country, two systems” promise is not what we imagined it to be three decades ago. 

Doc Brown is right: “The future is different from what we all thought. But don’t worry. It just means your future hasn’t been written yet.”

Or perhaps we could give it a little twist and say: “Don’t worry, the worst is yet to come!”

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EJ Insight writer

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