4th June Vigil: The Annual Festival and the Annual Argument

Real Hong Kong News

1st June, 2016

4th June Vigil: The Annual Festival and the Annual Argument

By Kael’thas Kamiya

Embed from Getty Images

It’s that time of the year again.

The anniversary of the June Fourth Tiananmen Massacre, and leading up to this quasi-religious festival, is the years running argument for and against the continuation of the Candlelight Vigil in Victoria Park, Causeway Bay.

For those unaware of this argument, it began in 2013 when Hong Kong localism first emerged  in the political scene in Hong Kong. The movement had already been simmering for a while in the undercurrents between 2008 and 2012, where Hong Kong’s younger generations were increasingly rejecting the idea that they are chinese, identifying themselves purely as Hongkongers. It had come fully to the fore of political debate amongst those in the pan-democratic camp, through the exchanging volleys of criticisms and condemnations between the supporters and protesters.

In the argument’s development up until now, those who reject the vigil have the following criticisms and condemnations:

  • The Massacre happened in china, far away from Hong Kong, in a movement outside of Hong Kong, at a time when most Hongkongers now were only babies or were not even born. The Vigil has little relevance or significance to Hongkongers this time and age, as the supplications are calling for democracy in china, which Hongkongers are powerless to inflict any realistic changes to the situation other than making a symbolic gesture.
  • The Candlelight Vigil is part of the pan-sina worldview of the older generations, a view that is now at odds with the ground-gaining Hong Kong localism ideology, and the younger generations are openly calling for secession and independence from china. This demand comes as a response to the mass chinese incursions into Hong Kong society, severely altering the linguistic and cultural makeup; eroding Hong Kong’s traditional values on rule of law, enterprise, integrity, freedoms and rights; and making themselves, the chinese, masters over Hong Kongers.
  • The Vigil is nothing more than the Democratic Party led pan-democrats’ political campaigning platform for introducing its up-coming politicians, and a fund-raiser gathering for the loyal followers. The former professor Horace Chin Wan in 2013 once remarked that the Vigil was like an insidious altar luring Hongkongers into the cult of patriotism for a country that is out to destroy the sanctity of Hong Kong.
  • The Vigil creates the illusion that Hong Kongers are doing something for democratic advancement in china and in Hong Kong, when in reality nothing had been done, other than being a cheerleader to the chinese to do the dirty work in bringing down the chinese communist party for Hong Kongers.
  • The pan-democrats who support the Vigil are placing china’s fight for democracy above Hong Kong’s fight for its own, saying that “if china doesn’t have democracy, neither should Hong Kong”. Critics of the Vigil also pointed out that the spokespeoples and supporters of the Vigil are also the ones who side with the chinese and their master the CCP, when it comes to a Hong Konger-chinese conflict, putting the greed of the chinese above the natural rights of Hongkongers in their own city-state.

The majority of those who object the participation of the Vigil proposed that Remembrance for June Fourth should not be monopolised by any one organisation, nor should the meaning of the Remembrance be ordained and defined by any sole group, and Hongkongers should be the priority when it comes to fighting for freedoms and rights in Hong Kong, and not the chinese who are increasingly at odds with Hong Kong values and society. Moreover, these Hongkongers reassessed the meaning of June Fourth Remembrance with relevance to Hongkongers, pointing out that the power that ordered the mass murder of students and protesters back in 1989 is the same power that is controlling Hong Kong and slowly killing the city. They never suggest that the Massacre has no meaning to Hongkongers. Civic Passion, a pro-democracy localist party founded in 2012, and other newly emerged political organisations and outspoken new generation individuals in Hong Kong, believe that the Tiananmen Massacre is the foundation of Hong Kong’s need for independence from china.

For the pro-Vigil camp, they hit back with slanders and character assassinations, often condemning the protesters as cold-hearted fascists, who cannot see beyond their own needs and wants. Their insistence is that the annual photo of the sea of candlelight in Victoria Park brings encouragement to the chinese fighting for their democracy, but cannot produce any evidence of their work in advancing their cause. In 2014, they ridiculed the June Fourth gathering organised by Civic Passion, with a localist flavour that speaks meaning into the Remembrance for Hong Kongers, saying that it would be lucky if it had 200 people attending. Instead, more than 2,000 attended the brief gathering, and as it disbanded, the crowd transformed into an occupation of Canton Road, with everyone shouting “down with the chinese communist party” and “down with the SAR regime” as they marched down the street all the way to the Jordan District, putting the SAR police into a frantic confusion. It was the precursor to the Anti-Locust march, the Occupation of Mong Kok during the Umbrella Revolution, and the Reclaim Marches held in northern districts under heavy attack from chinese smugglers of Hong Kong’s domestic goods back to china.

For this year, 11 student unions and organisations of Hong Kong’s universities have decided to hold independent forums discussing June Fourth, instead of joining the Vigil as they had traditionally. Even the Federation of Hong Kong’s Students, which incurred a massive blow when around half of its member universities withdrew from the Federation by referendum, decided that they will not attend the Vigil this year, choosing to remember June Fourth on their own. The Support for chinese Cemocracy Committee and its supporters lambasted the students, condemning them as sidetracking from the meaning of the Vigil, with some calling the student union leaders disgusting. HK Peanut, a pseudo-online media founded by the League of Social Democrats, even slandered Althea Suen, President of the Student Union for Hong Kong University, twisting her speech against the Vigil into rhetoric against putting the “Dark Corner Seven” to justice, the seven cops who brutally assaulted Ken Tsang during the Umbrella Revolution, forcing her to apologise.

Author’s Note:

The terms “china”, “chinese” and “chinese communist party” are deliberatly left un-capitalised, in order to express the author’s disgust over the nation, its ruling party and its colonists.

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