22 January 2020
Hong Kong authorities need to move quickly to address the despair and discontent among the youth following the extradition bill saga, observers say. Photo: AFP
Hong Kong authorities need to move quickly to address the despair and discontent among the youth following the extradition bill saga, observers say. Photo: AFP

Message to our youth: Don’t give up hope!

Following the extradition bill crisis, which saw hundreds of thousands of people take to the streets in mass protests, the mood among many Hongkongers has been one of discontent and despair.

In recent days, there have been media reports of some youth taking their own lives while making references to the social and political turmoil in the city. I find such news immensely disturbing.

I understand that many young people are getting deeply disappointed and frustrated with the government’s deaf ear to their demands, which include complete scrapping of the extradition bill, rather than merely suspending it, and withdrawal of police cases against demonstrators. 

Given the situation, I would stress that we are at a time when all of us in society must stick together in order to find a way out of the current crisis.

Every single one of us counts; we cannot afford to lose anybody. We must stay strong and resilient. Any misguided act of self-sacrifice, including violence or suicide, is not worth it.

All of us must stay united at this critical moment so as to continue with our fight, and hence my plea: please live for the sake of Hong Kong!

Like any other Hongkonger, I was also frustrated with the government’s indifference and ruthlessness toward the citizens over the past several weeks.

But after the storming of the Legislative Council complex on July 1, what I have noticed is that there are a group of young people who are ready to push the battle against the regime at all costs, not bothering about potential criminal liability or violent actions.

I am absolutely against the use of violence or any overly radical means, be it from the police or demonstrators.

The last thing I want is to see anybody getting hurt. I am also worried that radical means adopted by protesters could be used by the administration to divert public attention and turn the tide of opinion in society.

While the anger of protesters is understandable, it doesn’t mean that people can endanger themselves or others through violence.

I am deeply saddened by reports of young people expressing their indignation by committing suicide. What is worrisome is the prospect that such negative and desperate sentiments could continue to spread in society in the coming days.

Over the last couple of weeks, all the government did was condemn violence, while avoiding looking into the root cause of the young people’s desperation.

To resolve the ongoing crisis, Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor must respond to public demands seriously and establish an independent commission of inquiry to look into the recent events to determine who should be held accountable.

As we all know, the future of our society lies in our youth. As such, the elders must firmly keep a watch over the youngsters and proactively provide help for them when necessary so as to eliminate their sense of powerlessness and avert further deterioration of the situation.

We must pull ourselves together and guide the society through difficult times peacefully and rationally using the votes in our hands.

The extradition bill episode is definitely not the end of our fight. Rather, it marks the beginning of another chapter in our resistance against social injustice.

That said, in order to rebuild Hong Kong, we must look after each and everyone who are fighting alongside us.

To our young people, here is my message: please live, because Hong Kong needs you!

This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on July 9

Translation by Alan Lee

[Chinese version 中文版]

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Legislative councilor and head of nursing and health studies in the Open University of Hong Kong