Date
14 October 2019
Riot police fire tear gas toward anti-government protesters during a demonstration in Tseung Kwan O on Monday. Photo: Reuters
Riot police fire tear gas toward anti-government protesters during a demonstration in Tseung Kwan O on Monday. Photo: Reuters

Disruptions along the way, but is this the right direction?

An old friend yesterday invited me for dinner. “But let’s set the time first. You name the venue, I pay the bill,” he said in a text message.

As it turned out, the difficult part was deciding where to eat. It seemed natural for us to meet halfway: I could reach it from my office in the west and then travel eastward to go home.

But it was quite hard to find a restaurant in a place that isn’t a usual venue for protests. My friend had suggested that we look for a place near my flat, but I had turned down the offer for the same reason.

Dining out has become a risky proposition in most parts of the city over the past few weeks, especially this week, when MTR Corp. decided to close its train services early at 8 p.m. in the past couple of days and at 9 p.m. today.

For many people like myself who rely on the MTR as the chief means of transport, the suspension of train services, or their shortened operation, presents a huge inconvenience. It also imposes restrictions on my nightlife.

Of course, there are still buses and taxis available, but such options could give you a huge headache – e.g., kilometric queues and no seats available – especially if you go out during rush hours.

Besides, I prefer trains as they are the most efficient – it normally takes less than half an hour to reach Central or Tsim Sha Tsui from my place in Tseung Kwan O – even faster than a car-hailing service.

That’s why it’s hard for me to accept that although the MTR has resumed most of the train services today, the station below my flat remains closed.

In the past two days, I had to take a good 10-minute walk to the nearest station. It’s good for the health, I know, but I ended up all soaked in sweat in this warm October. But still, that’s a better option than being holed up in my flat.

In a way, a limited MTR service is more effective than invoking emergency powers in reducing the number of protesters on the streets at night.

Well, how many of our young activists would take a cab to join a demonstration, given that they find a HK$50 meal box too expensive? There’s the bus, of course.

Tseung Kwan O,  formerly known as Junk Bay, is a young district with most of its over 400,000 residents having lived there only within the past decade.

There are also many young people in the district. And being young means being idealistic and passionate, seeking change and making things happen.

The MTR station in the district had seen some of the worst damages amid almost daily attacks from radical protesters before it finally broke down.

Most of the traffic lights within a one-kilometer radius from the station have been damaged, although fortunately, no serious road accident has occurred.

But life goes on, with or without the MTR. 

There will be constant disruptions, and some people think they’re inevitable in the fight for democracy. But are we going in the right direction?

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CG

EJ Insight writer