Despite the fact that this year’s June 4 candlelight vigil was boycotted, for the first time in 27 years, by various groups of students, about 125,000 people still turned up for the event on Saturday night.
This indicates that the memory of the June 4, 1989, incident in Beijing still lives on in the minds of tens of thousands of our fellow citizens.
Although it has already been 27 years since the incident took place, its far-reaching implications for our society still linger, even to this day.
The June 4 incident is a very complicated issue and involves many topics that must be examined in their historical context, such as political and economic reform in China, the social dynamics of Chinese society, awareness of civil rights among the Chinese public, and how the incident has influenced the course of history in the country.
These are some of the subjects that still remain at the center of public debate in Hong Kong today.
People from different generations have tried to interpret the June 4 incident from different perspectives and put different emphases and priorities on the issue.
For example, while some are concerned about whether Beijing will vindicate the victims of the massacre and stop persecuting their remaining family members, some are focused on how to keep the memory of the incident alive and pass it on to the next generation.
In recent years, an increasing number of young people and members of the so-called “indigenous faction” in our city have started to question whether the people of Hong Kong should still take it upon themselves to push for the vindication of the June 4 victims and the democratization of China.
Worse still, the number of people turning up for the yearly candlelight vigil have been on the decline, suggesting that the June 4 commemoration effort could be losing momentum.
To make sure people won’t forget the June 4 incident, we must constantly remind people of the unfinished business of that monumental pro-democracy movement and engage the international community on the issue of human rights in China.
To do that, we need to have a regular and large-scale commemorative event such as the annual candlelight vigil at Victoria Park as a symbol to capture and hold local and international attention.
The annual event must, therefore, go on, against all odds and despite all doubts.
Apart from the 27th anniversary of June 4, another event that has become the focus of public attention is the recent series of scandals engulfing the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong (DAB).
First, just weeks after the “lug-gate” scandal involving the family of Hong Kong’s chief executive, anonymous medical staff at Queen Elizabeth Hospital recently blew the whistle on the hospital’s management in social media.
The hospital reportedly violated standard procedures and gave DAB lawmaker Tam Yiu-chung, the party’s former chairman, VIP treatment when he recently underwent minor surgery there.
The reports were confirmed by QE Hospital and Tam himself.
Both then made public apologies on television.
The incident immediately sparked a public outcry against the preferential treatment given by the government to pro-establishment politicians.
Some pan-democratic lawmakers are now working aggressively to build support within and outside the legislature for the holding of an independent inquiry into the matter to find out whether Tam engaged in any misconduct in public office.
Even though Tam has already said publicly he won’t be running in the Legco election in September, the scandal has already taken its toll on the election prospects of his party.
Then came the saga of the DAB’s campaign arrangements for the Legco election.
The party decided that one of its incumbent lawmakers, Christopher Chung Shu-kun, can only come second on the list of the DAB candidates for the Hong Kong Island constituency, which means his chances of re-election will be very slim.
The disgruntled and disaffected Chung then publicly lashed out at his party’s leadership and said he is considering resigning from the DAB and running for Legco on his own.
Much to the embarrassment of his party mates, he went further and revealed that the results for the Hong Kong Island constituency in the last Legco election were rigged, because the DAB was “coordinating” votes with the Hong Kong Federation of Trade Unions on election day based on their own exit poll findings.
The DAB’s decision to effectively ban Chung from seeking re-election is not only splitting the party from within and alienating a lot of its supporters in the community but also calling into question the ability of its new chairwoman, Starry Li Wai-king, to lead.
It appears there will be more drama to come regarding the DAB as the election draws nearer.
This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on June 6.
Translation by Alan Lee
[Chinese version 中文版]
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