Date
25 September 2017
When should we celebrate Hong Kong's birthday? On July 1, to mark the territory's handover in 1997 (right)? Or on Jan. 26, to mark the first British flag-raising ceremony at Possession Point in 1841?  Photos: hkmemory.hk, HKEJ
When should we celebrate Hong Kong's birthday? On July 1, to mark the territory's handover in 1997 (right)? Or on Jan. 26, to mark the first British flag-raising ceremony at Possession Point in 1841? Photos: hkmemory.hk, HKEJ

It’s the heritage, not the birthday, that matters

It may seem odd if some people would celebrate Hong Kong’s birthday a day after the city experienced the coldest weather in nearly 60 years, but it may be their way of raging against the present dispensation.

Talking about the city’s natal day, it really depends on who you ask. The two parents would probably give you different answers.

To our government, it was July 1, 1997, the first day of the Special Administration Region. To the British, August 29, 1842 was the date they formerly took over Hong Kong under the Treaty of Nanjing.

Perhaps only a few people would celebrate it on January 26th, which marks the unfurling of the British flag by the Royal Navy sailors at Possession Point 175 years ago.

Old Hong Kong surely would want to forget the date when the invading gweilos first came to the territory, which they dismissively described as “a barren rock with nary a house upon it”.

But some of the young generation – specifically, the netizens – might have cared to do a little celebration to mark the day.

Yes, most of us did not appreciate the British rule as much as we should until we had the Chinese.

While some are getting accustomed to Beijing’s increasing presence in our daily lives, many of us are getting more uncomfortable as time passes.

This is exactly what we felt after the second reading of what is now known as Online Article 23, and after hearing the latest episode in the unfolding drama of the missing booksellers.

We cannot help but wonder how long we will continue to enjoy the freedoms we used to take for granted.

For the record, though we miss our glorious past, we are not infatuated with it. We are, after all, mighty proud of our realistic and practical disposition.

We would marvel at the longevity of the Queen, but not many of us would actually bother to send her a greeting card on her 90th birthday.

Yes, the Queen’s legacy is seeing Hong Kong develop from a small fishing port to an international financial center.

However, we should not discount the impact of the Communist Party’s victory over the Kuomintang in the Chinese civil war, which prompted many Chinese to migrate to the city and contribute much to its prosperity.

And if people want to celebrate the first day of British landing in Hong Kong, perhaps they should also shout three cheers to Uncle Lau Wong-fat, the King of the New Territories, because his ancestors have been lording it over the island several hundred years before the Brits came.

Of course, most people miss the British heritage. I am delighted to see my alma mater Queen’s College has come up with the idea of putting back the royal crown in the school badge for a limited sale.

To avoid any embarrassment, the sale was only for alumni. There is a big difference if you wear a school badge with the crown because that means we have seen the best of Hong Kong.

The growing importance of heritage must have also affected the western part of Hong Kong.

And this could be seen at the annual spring cocktail hosted on Tuesday by the Liaison Office which gathered the most powerful tycoons and political heavyweights in town.

When Director Zhang Xiaoming delivered his speech, he saw to it that bilingual subtitles were provided for the benefit of the expat guests.

Does that herald the new era of One Belt, One Road? Time will tell.

You may miss the good old colonial days but that doesn’t necessarily mean you have to hate the status quo.

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BK/DY/CG

EJ Insight writer

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