27 October 2016
The Mong Kok clashes last week signified the beginning of the reign of the 'valor faction' in Hong Kong's anti-government movement. Photo: TVB
The Mong Kok clashes last week signified the beginning of the reign of the 'valor faction' in Hong Kong's anti-government movement. Photo: TVB

The rise of the ‘valor faction’ in Hong Kong politics

On the first day of the Year of the Monkey the “Fishball Revolution” broke out in Hong Kong.

As academic commentator Ivan Choy Chi-keung has put it, the wounds of the Occupy movement have never healed, and the clashes in Mong Kok last week was simply a continuation of the unfinished battle between the police and pro-democracy activists back in 2014.

As expected, after the Mong Kok clashes, the pro-establishment camp quickly fell into step with the government and Beijing and strongly condemned the protesters, while some of the pan-democrats and members of civil society blamed the clashes on the rapid polarization of our society and the rising grievances among young people under the rule of Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying.

Whether you like it or not, however, the clashes could be seen as a watershed in the history of social movements of Hong Kong, for the incident marked the beginning of the reign of the so-called “valor faction (勇武派)” in the local anti-government movement.

They have replaced the pan-democratic political parties and traditional social activists as the new standard-bearer of the pro-democracy and anti-Beijing movement in the post-Occupy era in our city.

While they take center stage, the influence of the old-school social activists who still stubbornly stick to the doctrines of peaceful resistance and civil disobedience is bound to fade away gradually.

No matter how people are going to judge the young people who took on the police on the basis of “an eye for an eye” on Monday night last week, or no matter how much blame the protesters are going to take for what they did, it has become increasingly apparent that many young people in our city no longer buy into the long-standing principle, embraced by the old-timers, of fighting for democracy by peaceful means.

They believe it has come to nothing. Their patience is running out quickly, and they are eager to go to greater lengths to take their future into their own hands.

“Resistance by force” has become an increasingly popular slogan among the radical youth.

As indicated in the clashes last week, these street fighters were coming of age and were getting more and more organized and skillful.

On several occasions, they were able to outsmart and outflank the outnumbered police officers, who were forced to retreat and call for reinforcements.

Unlike the mainstream political parties, the “valor faction” doesn’t need the sympathy or recognition of the majority of the public, because all they need to fight “tyranny” is several hundreds of “suicide squad” members who dare to take on the police with extreme force, regardless of bloodshed, arrests or even death.

Most people in society might not agree with their cause, but the cast-iron fact is that their way of resistance is gaining more and more popularity among the younger generation, and the degree of violence to which they resort will just escalate in the days ahead.

It is a harsh reality that those across our political spectrum have to face regardless of their political stance.

This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on Feb. 16.

Translation by Alan Lee

[Chinese version 中文版]

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Assistant Professor, School of Communication, Department of Journaism and Communication, Hang Seng Management College; Vice-Chairman of SynergyNet

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