Housewives. Some people may think of them as passive and apolitical, but they do care about society because what happens outside their homes affect their husbands and kids.
So if they raise their voices and link arms, better listen up. Remember the massive protests in 2012 against the teaching of national education in schools? Housewives were instrumental in the success of that movement that forced the government to retreat.
Now here comes the much-feared extradition bill. Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor, herself a mother, is moving heaven and earth to have it passed into law.
It’s no longer just the pan-dems who are opposing it. Even pro-establishment figures are standing up against the proposal.
And now petitions are cropping up everywhere and being signed by thousands of people who sincerely believe that the proposed amendments to the extradition law are antithetical to some of our city’s core values, namely rule of law and judicial independence, as they do not trust a justice system that is run by an autocratic regime.
One petition, published on the front pages of several local papers, carried some 120,000 signatures from at least 185 schools to urge the administration to withdraw the bill.
Facebook events against the proposed legislation have also emerged in about a dozen cities worldwide, including New York, London, Berlin and Toronto. The protests will coincide with a massive protest being planned against the bill in Hong Kong this Sunday.
Meanwhile, an online petition by the “Hong Kong, Kowloon and New Territories’ housewives anti-extradition law alliance” has garnered close to 6,000 signatures.
In an online statement, the alliance went straight to the point.
“The [amendments] would affect our lives and make us worried all the time because of the ever changing censorship rules in politics and the incomprehensible legal system.
“We know of some mainland wives whose lawyer husbands have been missing for a very long time. After searching a thousand miles for their loved ones, they could not even attend their trials, they could not even visit them in prison.”
I can understand how they feel. I have a friend who went through the same harrowing experience.
In their statement, the housewives stress that they are opposing the extradition bill not for their own sake but for the next generation who have a long way to go in dealing with the mainland, whether as students, business people, lawyers, journalists or artists – the bill could strip them of the protection provided by the rule of law in Hong Kong.
But the sad fact remains that even some wives and mothers in the establishment don’t appreciate their concerns.
During a meeting of the Legco security panel on Monday, legislator Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee, who is also a member of the Executive Council, questioned the motive behind the petition.
“Maybe the undersigned are worried for the safety of their husbands who might be extradited for having mainland mistresses?” she snickered.
She also said the alliance, along with the other petitioners, would probably be nervous if the scale of the extradition were massive.
In reply to Ip’s questions, Secretary for Security John Lee Ka-chiu said a total of 104 people have been extradited since the 1997 handover, including 68 to the United States, 10 to Australia, eight to Britain, and seven to Canada.
But Ip apparently misses the point. It’s not a question of numbers. It’s a question of justice.
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