New revelations in the bookseller abduction saga serve as a wake-up call for the people of Hong Kong and a stark reminder that freedom of expression, rule of law and even our personal safety, which we all have taken for granted for so long, are indeed much more fragile than we think.
The events pertaining to the people from Causeway Bay Bookstore over the past 12 months makes good material for a Hollywood action thriller, given that we have all these elements: cross-border abduction, solitary confinement, repeated interrogation, forced confession and conditional release.
Overall, the events point to one inconvenient truth: “One Country Two Systems” is virtually dead.
Even though many people have succumbed, either by choice or though force, in face of the intimidation of a brutal Chinese regime, there are still some who dare to defy tyranny, stand by their convictions and speak their mind despite all the ordeals they have gone through and the apprehensions about further persecution.
Lam Wing-kee, one of the owners of the Causeway Bay Bookstore, is definitely one of these people.
On Friday afternoon last week, I bumped into Lam at the Legco building and used the opportunity to have a short conversation with him.
What I saw was an exhausted but determined man who has nothing to lose, whose gloves are off, and who has refused to resign himself to fate.
Like what we saw on TV, Lam was telling us the entire truth and was warning everyone in this city that what happened to him could happen to anyone else here.
If we don’t stand up to oppression and defend our rights, there will just be more cases like what happened to Lam and his associates such as Lee Bo.
After Lam had spoken up in front of the camera and revealed how Beijing had once again trampled under foot the principle of “One Country Two Systems”, the pro-Beijing propaganda mouthpieces in Hong Kong immediately mounted an all-out smear campaign against Lam and accused him of lying.
However, the mudslinging was an insult to our intelligence, because it is just a no-brainer as to who is actually lying here.
Over the past four years, Hong Kong people have witnessed a series of unjust deeds committed in the name of “common good” and “preserving social harmony”.
Now, the booksellers’ saga is testing the limits of our tolerance.
Hong Kong people are being pushed to the cliff, as the core values that we treasure so much are under unprecedented threat. Backing down or making concessions are no options because tyrants are like extortionists: the more you give, the more they take.
The entire world is witnessing Beijing’s oppressiveness, but no one is going to give us a hand. It is up to us to help ourselves.
If we want our children to continue to live in a free society, now’s the time for us to break our silence and defend what belongs to us. This is the harsh reality that is facing every single citizen in this city.
This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on June 20.
Translation by Alan Lee
[Chinese version 中文版]
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