18th June, 2014
An Open Letter To Our Previous Generation
How should I begin? I do not really know you, but based on historical facts, you have experienced the negotiation between Britain and China about Hong Kong’s future, and witnessed the 4/June Massacre. How did you feel then? Were you one of the people who marched with a black ribbon on your arm? I did not want to ask because it would sound like I’m questioning your conscience, but I have to ask today: were you worried that you are handing your next generation to a murdering regime? Or were you thinking that your children would learn to remain silent if their future is half-ruined?
Sometimes I wonder why I’m still alive as I cannot choose the life I want to live. I always love literature and dreamed to be a writer. As I grow up, I realise I am not talented in anything. And then, I wanted to be an editor or open a small book shop, or work in a book shop because I want to witness the lives of books, and watch them going into different people’s hands – and some of these books may become classic one day! You know that there are not many people who read nowadays, and the number of book shops and publishers is dropping day by day. Sometimes, you and your generation, complain that people in my generation do not read anymore. I sense that you probably know the reason why people in my generation do not read, but I hope that is not true because I do not want to know that you have lost your conscience.
As I travel to different countries, I began to fall in love with plants but not many know as I live in a windowless room that is jam-packed with books, I can barely breathe in my room let along a plant. I thought about going into the agricultural sector in Hong Kong, but there is close to no farmland left because of all the development the government pushes forward. Even if there were farmlands, I would not dare to tell you that I am interested in agriculture because you would say that there is not future to work in a farm, lecture me that I romanticise work and life, and tell me that working in a farm is harder than I can take. Of course you would not know that the two universities I studied at have well established world-class agricultural departments. As I walked pass their laboratories everyday on my way to my classes, I always wanted to know what my university mates are growing there. In Hong Kong, although working in farm is still hard, you do not know that technology is applied across the industry to make it much easier for workers in the farm. I’m not referring to GM or toxic fertiliser and pesticide, but scientific analysis and statistics that generate new theories and improve agricultural techniques. However, until this moment, no university in Hong Kong has established an agricultural department. Universities in Hong Kong are obsessed with manufacturing more and more BBA students, creating an excess supply of BBA students in Hong Kong.
I can no longer assume that you, the previous generation, are just naïve to not know the reasons for the reducing number of book stores, the lack of farmlands in Hong Kong and the social-wide discouragement for pursuing a dream in the agricultural space. You knew the reasons all along. Perhaps you do not understand asset alienation, but you must have heard the line from that popular TV drama “This city is dying”. When did Hong Kong started to die? It is since when everyone have eyes for money and money only, “we were trained by the environment as if we were manufactured with the same mode: we like the same type of food, enjoy the same type of TV programme, have the same political stance, and believe in the identical way of life.” You know better than anyone that why Hong Kong is poor that it has nothing but money.
On 14th June, elders gathered at my home, but I was very tired. The night before, I went to the Legislative Council, witnessed the bravery of the Hongkongers who took a step forward to defend their future. At that moment, I knew I should have helped pull down one of the barriers, to break the domination the rich and powerful owe, to help the people regain power in the legislature – these are things a university student is obligated to do. However, I did not do it because I got arrested I would have missed the Father’s Day dinner. All I could do was to pass a tissue to the man who got hit by pepper spray. Have you ever been sprayed by one of them? A tiny splash on my skin made me coughed for a long while. THIS is what the police claim to be minimum level of violence they would deploy on protestors. I did not leave the Legislative Council that evening – I did not sit down to wait for arrest, I waited outside that zone. However, I do not know what I was waiting for, perhaps purely because I did not want to leave others behind. Until the police went to physically remove protestors one by one, twisting their arms and legs, dragging them on the ground violently. I remember clearly that the majority of these protestors did not attempt to storm into the LegCo. I began to realise that our police today only vent their frustration and anger on innocent citizens. I realised that I was wrong: the police can arrest or torture me or anyone regardless of whether or not we participate in the action. I suppressed my anger and I felt exhausted so I went home by minibus. It was dawn as I stepped off the minibus, I felt nauseous and could not stop my tears. It might have been the pepper spray or not.
The door at the LegCo should have been stormed opened by you, the previous generation. In fact, if you tried, this door would not have been sealed today and no one would have to try bashing it. However, on the evening of Father’s Day when I heard you labeled us as useless youngsters who know nothing but to protest against the government and to demand for more out of greed, I am confused. What greed are you referring to? Fighting for the freedom we choose how we want to live is greed? To preserve the right to live with dignity is greed? Just admit it! You have never wanted your next generation, us, to live with dignity! That is why you watch your next generation to beg on all fours in front of a murdering regime without making a sound! That is why you are not bothered by the fact that our lives are half-ruined when we were born! That is also why you would say we are greedy when we are fighting for the bear minimal for your own interests.
Please continue to destroy Hong Kong! But please do not forget: you should have been the ones that stormed into the Legislative Council.
I was born in the 90s, in your eyes I’m only a useless youngster.