I have always been against any act of violence.
All sorts of violence are totally unacceptable, whether it is the excessive use of force by the police against protesters during the June 12 clashes, or the storming of the Legislative Council complex on July 1.
As a lawmaker myself, my heart simply ached when I witnessed the serious damage the Legco building has sustained.
Violence would only bring further harm, and definitely would not boost the moral authority of the entire anti-extradition bill movement.
In fact, violence committed by a handful of protesters would only be used by the other side as an excuse to divert public attention.
It would also spark divisions among supporters of the movement.
Like I said in my speech delivered during the Legco adjournment debate motion moved by lawmaker Christopher Cheung Wah-fung on June 27, the police have lost their moral high ground because of their abusive use of force. Likewise, if our citizens use violence, they will lose their moral high ground as well.
That said, it is my sincere hope that people will think twice before choosing their course of action.
However, judging from the dilemma our city is currently facing, violence only represents a small tip of the problem. What we should also be asking is, why did our young people choose to storm the Legco building?
Thanks to the detailed and real-time coverage of the incident by news reporters, we were able to catch a glimpse of the mindset of the young people who stormed the Legco complex on Monday night.
While these young protesters showed no mercy in wrecking the facilities in Legco that symbolize Hong Kong’s political system, they, on the other hand, painstakingly reminded each other to keep their hands off the books and artefacts in the Legco library.
All these young protesters were perfectly aware of the consequences of breaking into Legco which they will have to face, yet they still chose to make their voices heard through this means.
Apparently, what they were trying to do was to send a strong message to society through their action: how come the government is still turning a deaf ear to people’s demands after 1 million, and then 2 million citizens have taken to the streets peacefully?
Even though I don’t agree with the way these young people expressed their views, I believe we should listen carefully to the outcry that comes from the very bottom of their hearts, as well as their inner conflicts, agitation, despair and aspirations.
And let’s not forget that apart from the hundreds of protesters who rampaged through the Legco complex on Monday night, there were tens of thousands of other young protesters who gathered outside the building.
These protesters, be they inside or outside the Legco complex, represent an entire generation of young people in our city.
The five demands made by millions of demonstrators are so unmistakably clear, but why did our government still refuse to respond to them?
Worse still, apart from apologizing, what else did our administration do throughout June? If our young people are getting so unsettled over the government’s indifference, so are the older members of our society.
And if our young people have to take responsibility for their action, then our government should also be held accountable for its action (or inaction) too!
We probably would have been able to avoid the loss of lives, the escalation of public anxiety, and the unnecessary rampage at the Legco complex if the authorities had responded to people’s demands in a timely manner.
That being said, it is my genuine hope that the government would responsibly and sincerely respond to the demands of our citizens before the situation reaches the point of no return.
True, everybody must say no to violence. Yet more importantly, our government should bear the biggest responsibility in trying to resolve social conflicts and eliminate the root causes of violence.
This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on July 4
Translation by Alan Lee
[Chinese version 中文版]
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