23 October 2018
Tat Ming Pair is using David Bowie's song Heroes to encourage Hong Kong people in their fight for true democracy. Photo: Facebook/Universal Music Hong Kong
Tat Ming Pair is using David Bowie's song Heroes to encourage Hong Kong people in their fight for true democracy. Photo: Facebook/Universal Music Hong Kong

How Bowie’s Cold War song should inspire Hong Kong

In their concert in Hong Kong last week, Hong Kong’s outspoken singing group Tat Ming Pair used David Bowie’s song Heroes to tell Hong Kong people that “we are all heroes for securing our future and the one who will be elected isn’t”.

The election result had been written on the wall before the 1,194 electoral committee members cast their votes on Sunday morning. It’s no surprise that Carrie Lam will take the helm of Hong Kong come July 1, the 20th anniversary of Hong Kong’s return to China.

Lam won 777 votes in the chief executive election while former financial secretary John Tsang garnered 365 and retired judge Woo Kwok-hing took 21.

The result reaffirmed the tight grip of pro-Beijing loyalists and Beijing authorities on Hong Kong politics to the detriment of “one country, two systems”.

While many Hong Kong people hoped that a new leader could uphold Hong Kong’s uniqueness, the answer now is quite clearly “no”.

Tat Ming Pair, who have been highly critical of the local entertainment sector, failed to secure a commercial sponsor for their three-day concert last week.

The duo, made up of singer Anthony Wong and composer Tats Lau, condemned the election as just a drama with the result already pre-arranged.

Wong said the world has been divided by many walls and split in many ways in the United States and Europe.

“The world needs everyone to remove the walls. No matter who will win the election, that guy won’t be your hero. The world doesn’t need heroes. The world needs everyone to be heroes,” he said on the eve of the vote.

Tat Ming Pair is using Heroes to encourage Hong Kong people in their fight for democracy. The song was inspired by the Cold War in the 1970s and Bowie sang it at the Berlin Wall to an East German audience in 1987. Two years later, the Berlin Wall collapsed.

“I think people who desire freedom are heroes. It’s not about the one who got elected or those who cast their votes. We need to use our rights to monitor the new leader. We don’t need any false harmony. We don’t need heroes to save us. We need to be heroes to save ourselves,” the duo said.

Facing the election result, Hongkongers feel hopeless that they will be in no better place than they have been under the disastrous administration of Leung Chun-ying.

Leung, as you will recall, was elected state leader in the recent sessions of the National People’s Congress and the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, a consolation prize for agreeing to forgo a second term as chief executive.

Under Lam, the government is expected to continue to be beholden to Beijing rather than serve the interests of Hong Kong people.

That will make Hong Kong fall deeper into the “one country” framework in terms of political, economic and social development.

Its uniqueness as an international financial center could be further eroded under Lam’s leadership and replaced by a more China-focused policy mindset, with the aim of transforming Hong Kong into just another Chinese city.

Hong Kong can do nothing. Beijing’s agenda trumps Hong Kong’s interests and top leaders pay no attention to which candidate Hongkongers supported in the election.

From Beijing’s perspective, politics is the most important agenda. But if the political landscape remains divided, the wall built by Beijing in Hong Kong can only make things worse.

The election result showed Beijing refused to listen to Hong Kong people’s voices with the victory of its chosen candidate.

The opposition camp had made a big compromise by endorsing pro-establishment John Tsang rather than nominate its own candidate.

Tsang won huge support from the public with his outreach to the grassroots, hoping to mend five years of social conflict under Leung.

Still, Tsang struck a hopeful note in the end, telling supporters that “what we have left behind is not just a legacy that will be forgotten but genuine hope for a better future in Hong Kong”.

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EJ Insight writer

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