The first day of the Year of the Monkey brought the biggest and most violent clashes between police and citizens our city has seen since 1967.
Even though what happened that night was hardly comparable to the large-scale riots that sweep major western cities from time to time, the magnitude of the violence and the degree of ferocity demonstrated by the “rioters” in Mong Kok that night were still staggering, compared with previous clashes between police and protesters in recent years.
What struck me most about the clashes in Mong Kok is that, unlike in previous such incidents, protesters this time seemed to have adopted a much more proactive strategy and gone on the offensive instead of holding their positions passively, waiting to fight off police charges, like they did before.
Moreover, they were a lot more organized, skillful, dauntless and ferocious this time, and they were the one who were chasing and beating up police officers rather than being beaten up as they were before.
On one occasion, they were charging in battle formation and managed to break through the police line outside Langham Place, forcing the officers to retreat.
On several other occasions, protesters were even able to outsmart and outflank police officers in full riot gear and force them to abandon their positions.
All that indicated that protesters in Hong Kong are getting the hang of how to deal with the police after so many confrontations over the years.
They are getting more battle-hardened, their gloves are off, and they are taking no prisoners, ready to go to more extreme lengths and take on the police by force regardless of injuries and bloodshed.
As far as public order is concerned, of course it is obviously not a good sign that our protesters are getting increasingly violent and more eager to take the offensive against the police.
But like it or not, it is likely that it will become the new norm in our social movements in the days ahead.
The clashes were no doubt a tragedy for society as a whole, but I bet Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying was as much excited as outraged when he was watching television news footage showing protesters setting fire to sidewalk trash cans and throwing stones at the police — because his administration has been basically in full retreat after the defeat of the political reform package by the Legislative Council in June last year.
He is desperate to have a chance to fight back.
Since the defeat of the political reform bill, his administration has become the underdog and been fighting an uphill battle against the pan-democrats in the legislature, suffering one political defeat after another.
The latest example is the filibuster mounted by the pan-democrats that has so far successfully delayed voting on the Copyright (Amendment) Bill 2014, and the administration seems to be fighting a losing battle.
Given all that, what Leung needs most at this moment is an excuse to mount an all-out counter-offensive against the pan-democrats and the whole of civil society.
The clashes in Mong Kok gave him the perfect excuse to make a major political comeback and flex his muscles again.
As expected, on the day after the clash, Leung, along with his entire cabinet, appeared on TV with his head held high and officially “categorized” （定性）the clashes on the previous night as a “riot”.
I didn’t know whether Leung decided to use the term “categorize” himself or on his spin doctor’s advice, but to me it is a very poor choice of words, because it instantly reminded me, and perhaps all other people around or over the age of 40, of the notorious April 26 front-page editorial of the People’s Daily (人民日報) in 1989, which used exactly the same wording and officially “categorized” the peaceful student movement as a “counter-revolutionary riot”, and called for armed suppression of it, which, eventually, led to the bloody massacre on June 4 that shocked and outraged the entire world.
The term “categorize”, to determine or establish the nature of something, often an action) is political jargon commonly used by pro-Beijing mouthpieces and the Communist Party in its documents and demonstrates a kind of dictatorship mindset, because leaders in the democratic world would never “categorize” their people’s actions as this or that.
The fact that Leung used that term loud and clear on different occasions suggests that he shares the same dictatorial mindset with the Communist Party, as he thinks of himself as the absolute ruler, above the people and possessing the divine right to “categorize” the actions of his subjects.
Leung’s choice of words was a dead giveaway as to how he views his leadership, his power and his relations with the people.
That should put an end to the speculation that Leung could be an underground member of the Chinese Communist Party, because whether he is or not, it is crystal clear that he thinks and behaves like a 100 percent communist, and the subsequent massive arrests and prosecutions of “rioters” that are underway are typical of how a communist leader cracks down on dissent.
Even if Leung does not have a Communist Party membership card, he is definitely a communist at heart.
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