Hong Kong's Lion Rock spirit is gone forever

May 10, 2018 08:30
The so-called Lion Rock spirit that Hong Kong people say they so miss is all about helping each other. Photo: Reuters, Bloomberg

Hong Kong people love to boast about their core values. But what exactly are these values they say they so cherish? Some are easy to pinpoint. They say they are proud of Hong Kong’s rule of law, independent judiciary, and free society, from which flows a free media, free speech, and freedom of political thought.

But is that the extent of Hong Kong’s core values? Are there any offshoots, such as respect for minority groups, racial equality, and tolerance of those whose political views differ from theirs? Does the so-called Lion Rock spirit that people say they so miss include helping an elderly lady get a seat on an MTR train? The way I understand it, the long-lost Lion Rock spirit was all about helping each other.

Sometimes something very small can expose the ugly underbelly of something very large. I went through a recent incident that, in my opinion, exposed the true Hong Kong of today. It convinced me the love people say they have for Hong Kong’s core values is only skin deep. It doesn’t reside in their hearts. It is politically-driven. And depending on the color of the skin, these core values may not exist at all. The Lion Rock spirit can never return because Hong Kong no longer has a society in which it can breathe.

My small gesture of helping a 91-year-old woman get an MTR seat turned into a huge backlash of hate by politically-driven netizens and columnists. What has helping an elderly lady got to do with politics? Yet I was accused of being a pro-Beijing stooge and of colluding with commentator To Kit to bully the woman who refused to surrender her seat. For the record, I asked To Kit to post a picture of the woman’s back, without showing her face, because I don’t use Facebook.

Some online attacks against me had racist overtones. As a defender of free speech, I have zero problem with that. I have never been bothered by racist slurs because I give as good as I get. And I know how to belittle those who use racist language by making them feel inferior to me. I did not mind at all that the woman who refused to give up her seat used a racist slur against me because her lack of culture made her inferior to me. I have made it clear in the past that until and unless Hong Kong legislates against hate speech, racist language is part of free speech. What bothered me was not the woman’s racist language but her refusal to help an old lady.

I actually laughed out loud when friends told me a commentator had named me the Indian version of a pro-China columnist and mockingly suggested I nominate myself for a Nobel Prize for trying to help the elderly lady, and others had mocked me for using a China brand Huawei mobile phone. Do these people not know that iPhones are assembled in China even though they are an American brand? I bought the Huawei phone simply because a Hong Kong friend suggested it after Samsung’s Note 7 was recalled.

It is not without reason that I say Hong Kong’s core values are skin deep. I am a Hong Kong-born person of Indian ethnicity with American nationality but was labeled in attacks against me as an Indian version of a pro-China columnist. Why did these attackers not think of me as an American? The reason is simple. They judge by skin color. Yet Chinese Americans would kick up a storm if they were labeled solely as Chinese. Is there something wrong with the Chinese race regarding skin color? There is discrimination against blacks in America but they are still regarded as Americans.

The whole incident made me wonder why commentators would waste so much time and space to politically and racially attack a journalist trying to help someone in need. I chuckled at the thought that a non-Chinese was racially slammed for helping an old Chinese lady when a train carriage full of Chinese refused to help her.

Presumably, those who labeled me a Beijing stooge and mocked my race are the same people who joined the Occupy movement of love, peace, democracy, and freedoms. What a joke. But that’s what we have become, a society lost in its own contradictions. A good example is the case of Democratic Party member Ted Hui Chi-fung who snatched and peeked at the mobile phone of a female civil servant. His supporters say a Legislative Council censure motion against him should not precede a police investigation into his case.

Yet these same people want a Legco probe into former chief executive Leung Chun-ying’s alleged wrongdoing in the UGL issue before the ICAC has completed its investigation. A double standard? By pointing this out I have no doubt given further ammunition for people to call me a Beijing stooge. Actually, being called a Beijing stooge amuses me even though the facts will show I am not. An internet search of my recent columns in various media outlets will show I am far from being a Beijing stooge.

When China’s CCTV aired its Spring Festival Gala with a segment that made fun of black people, I demanded that it apologize for its racism. I made the point that China would demand an apology if an American TV network had a segment with racist overtones against Chinese people. I said China also needs to learn how to apologize when it always demands others to apologize. Would a China stooge dare say that?

Yes, you can argue that CCTV airing a racist segment against black people is free speech. But that argument is only valid in a free speech society. Mainland China is not a free speech society. Does a China stooge dare say that? Hong Kong has become an irrational society. That’s why I wrote here some years ago that it’s game over for Hong Kong.

– Contact us at [email protected]


A Hong Kong-born American citizen who has worked for many years as a journalist in Hong Kong, the USA and London.