17th December, 2014
The Governments are the Sources of People’s Anger
By Lee Yee (李怡)
Translated by T
At the end of the Umbrella Movement, the ever-hiding CY Leung met the press with all pomp and circumstance, joining him was Andy Tsang with similar pride. CY has lectured his citizens on what a “law-abiding democracy” is, and claimed what the occupiers were fighting for was an “illegal democracy” without even mentioning to ‘the pocket it first’ sham democracy currently on offer. Tsang also said that the Movement started with violence and ended with peace, but again, without hinting his Force’s tear gas canisters were the violence that triggered the movement.
Rumour has it that the government developed a new strategy after the consequences of launching tear gas on protesters. Known as “nurturing resentment”, the essence of this strategy aims to nurture resentment from the general public on protest through its inconvenience caused. As public support on the movement dwindled and the ‘nurtured’ resentment increased, the number of protesters would drop, and then clearing the streets would become justifiable. But it is unknown whether this was the brainchild of the Beijing authorities or CY Leung himself.
The movement has surely lost its steam, and it worsened as a government put the judiciary on the spot through a series of unnecessary civil procedure. The opinion polls eventually turned against the movement, and the leaders’ actions, whether surrendering to the police or starting another hunger strike, seems to be merely finding an honourable way out.
But the dwelling support does not necessarily guarantee ‘resentment’ has been ‘nurtured’ as planned. We need to examine the street survey conducted after the clearing. Some have welcomed the shortening of travelling time as traffic was back to normal, but there was no direct resentment to the protest. Some even admired the spirit and courage of the occupiers despite the inconvenience they caused. A friend of mine told me that one of her relatives turned against the movement after initially supporting it – it was not because of the traffic nuisance, but rather the frustration from the lack of success of the movement itself.
In fact, genuine resentment on the movement from the movement is less than considerable, and claiming any success of the ‘nurturing resentment’ strategy would only be credible within the Beijing circle or their Hong Kong henchmen. The civil movement has gained far more support from the general public compared to its historical counterparts across the world. The Black Power movement in the US back in 1960s has endured one of the worst public resentment in history. The US Federal Supreme Court instated the legal legitimacy of the “Separate but Equal” policy in 1896. What followed was coloured citizens in Montgomery, Alabama, boycotted all public transport in protest of the Racial Segregation policy in 1955, and the civil rights movement reached its peak in 1963 when a crowd of 250,000 marched towards Washington DC with Martin Luther King delivering the famous “I have a dream” speech. In the same year, President JFK delivered the largest civil rights petition to Congress. He was known to have quoted afterwards “it probably is going to destroy any chance of me ever holding a public office” – little would he have know about his own assassination in November, which to this day remains a mystery.
But judging from the fact that both Martin Luther King and Malcom X were assassinated, and the Republican victory in 1964 with White voters from the South turned sides from the Democrats, we can imply that the civil rights movement were not favoured by the American majority, not even by the middle-class black population. A typical black man back then was born out from poverty, uneducated with little job prospect, and therefore likely to run into trouble with the Law. The unwillingness of the White Americans to swim in a same pool or travel on the same bus with their black counterparts was seen as a normal phenomenon. This sentiment was only intensified by the existence of the Black Panther Party that advocated the use of force as self-defence.
Doing what is fair and just, there was a saying “be it a foe of a thousand men, I shall go forth”*. This spirit is what statesmen like JKF had pursued. If our protesters gave up just because of dwelling support, then they are only independently-thinking citizens and their leaders are merely politicians.
A former high-rank official has a habit of texting her friends, especially those on the pro-establishment spectrum. What she sent yesterday was as follows:
Not too long ago, a teenage campus reporter from Ming Pao was abused by the Police at Mong Kok, but later gave up his right to hold the perpetrator accountable in fear of possible retribution. What are your thoughts? Please choose one:
How is this tolerable? This must not go unanswered.
We will never know if there really will be any retribution afterwards. But it’s better for the kid not to follow-up. It’s safer that way…
Just let it go! What if something does happen to him afterwards?
Here is what the answers mean: 1 means you’re a person of values. 2 means you are sympathetic to the youngster, 3 means the youngster’s safety is by far your main concern. No matter you chose 1, 2, or 3, it still means you are a good person (heartless responses include: “why don’t those students on hunger strike simply go burn themselves?**” ).
The real aim of this test was not to assess your personality; rather it is to test where you are from. People from a democratic country would tend to choose 1, challenged countries 2, and authoritarian countries 3. Safeguarding the Hong Kong people’s rights to choose 1 rather than an increasing amount of 3 is therefore one of the many reasons for the clause of genuine democracy.
Yet we never run short of people disagreeing with this. One argument goes “we never had it before, why bother having it now?” This may seem misleading, but a lot of our peers simply take it at face value.
Some protest methods may in fact cause a scene, and this movement may be futile. But if one day when those who chose to disregard their civil rights realise option 3 was their only choice, then they may also realise a stronger voice from a larger crowd would have prevented that.
It takes a common man to send messages like this after the clearing – doing what an individual is capable of, with all commitment, to help safeguarding Hong Kong’s sense of civilisation. The road to genuine democracy will be a bumpy ride, but with such willpower and determination from the citizens, Beijing’s lackeys in Hong Kong will need some luck in nurturing resentment. If Zhang Rongshun’s demand for Hong Kong people’s “re-enlightenment” on One Country Two systems isn’t demanding us to turn against civilisation, then what is it?
* Original text was 雖千萬人吾往矣 taken from “自反而不縮，雖褐寬博，吾不惴焉？自反而縮，雖千萬人，吾往矣” by Manzo.
** This is in reference of the comment by pro-China director Clifton Ko Chi-sum in response of the hunger strike launch by Scholarism after the failed attempt to encircle the Government Headquarters.