Editorial: No slacking on struggle to keep memories alive|Apple Daily HK

Published (HKT): 2020.11.23 10:10

by Lo Fung

I have made an effort and finished reading Ma Ngok’s new book: “The Rebellious Community.” I say effort, not because Ma’s words are difficult to read or his discussions not clear enough; quite the opposite, they were too clear, too sobering. Readers have to face everything that had happened last year during the opposition movement: the joy, the rage, the sadness, blood, and tears. As I was reading the book, my already less-than-calm emotion became shakier, remembering everything – the millions of people in the demonstration on Jun. 9  who split like the Red Sea to allow for an ambulance to pass through; The battle at the Legislative Council (LegCo) on Jul. 1; the attack on the citizens by the white-clad thugs in Yuen Long on Jul. 21; citizens being attacked by the police on Aug. 31 and the news blackout; the shock of seeing the campuses of the Chinese University of Hong Kong and the Polytechnic University became a battleground in mid. November...

Ma tried to narrate the events in a factual, truthful way without any emotion. But I cannot help but picture the scene at the time. In the book, I could hear the bullets flying, smell the nauseating tear gas smoke, hear the cry and scream of the citizens, and see the flickering lights shining on top of the Lion Rock. It was breathtaking and heartbreaking. I had to take a few deep breaths now and again so as not to be suffocated by memories. So after many breaks in between, it took me over two weeks to finally finished reading this book with 200,000 words.

For me, this book is neither easy to write nor crowd-pleasing for a political scholar because the opposition movement is at a low ebb. But the citizens’ determination to protest and the actions are still there. It is difficult to discuss this movement systematically and with structure, and even more difficult to draw a clear conclusion (probably can’t even make a preliminary summary). On the other hand, the opposition movement has already become a thorn on the side of Beijing and the SAR government. People with an agenda and the authorities are paying close attention to any related information, videos, and books, which has given the authors, publishers, and distribution companies a lot of pressure. Under all the restrictions, Ma still managed to narrate the truth and his personal observation objectively and not overbearing. He did not allow his personal feeling and political stance affect the discussion, assists the readers to calmly reminiscence this piece of “fresh” history, and has left a “general history” type of record for this movement so that from people who have lived it to the successors of the movement can read about this movement from a reliable source.

“The Rebellious Community” is based on published documents and news material. It did not put too much focus on the struggles among senior officials of Beijing and Hong Kong, and Ma did not try to resolve any mystery by using unproved “insider news” unlike some of the authors. In August last year, Beijing used military exercise and mobilized armed police to threaten the citizens to stop protesting. In the end, it did not start any attack. Why not? Was it because Beijing is wary about the U.S. government and the international society? No one knows the answer, perhaps not until someone or the U.S. government reveals the content in the secret file, then we might get to know a bit of it.

When reading Ma recalling what happened in the past year and a half, what struck me is not the emotion, blood, and tears, but how heartless those in power were to the citizens, how cold and hostile they were towards the citizens’ demands. From the moment of Poon Hiu-wing’s murder and Carrie Lam proposed amendment of the Extradition Bill, the citizens and business sector have already raised questions and objections. They asked Lam to consider other means to deal with the matter and withdraw her proposal. But Lam refused to listen and went her own way. She rather amended the draft to “let off” the criminal offenders than withdrew the bill. On Jun. 9, a million shouted, “withdraw the bill!” Lam did not budge and even relied on Stephen Lo, the then Commissioner of Police, and the police to suppress the protest and control the situation so that the evil bill can pass.

On Jun. 12, tens of thousands of citizens surrounded LegCo and finally forced Lam to put the bill on hold. But she still would not admit her failure or completely withdraw the bill. Her reluctance to remove the bill has caused a lot of resentment and worries among the people, and the protests continued. More importantly, Lam has been hostile towards the five demands proposed by the citizens and the civil society. Never mind agreeing to these reasonable demands, but she won’t even face it. For example, with the demand of establishing an independent commission of inquiry into police brutality, if Lam suggested to set up an independent investigation commission immediately after Jun. 12 and actively responded to the citizens’ demand, she might not be able to resolve everything at once, but definitely could drastically cool the protest atmosphere. Then Hong Kong would not have gone into a vicious circle of protests and suppression.

Because Lam kept missing and giving up on the opportunity to have a dialogue to resolve the disagreement, the situation got worse. Soon after, Lam even shut the door of reconciliation, stopped listening, and allowed the police to continue with their violence and barbaric behavior; then killed off the public opinion and its representatives systematically and politically, through the hands of Beijing. Because of her, Hong Kong has been isolated internationally and is on a downhill slope.

Over a year has passed, Lam is still in power and is superior to any power of checks and balances. Toward public opinion, especially the opinion that is different from hers, not only does she turn a deaf ear, but she retaliates against every social class and profession: social workers, medical workers, teachers, journalists, academics, lawmakers...no exception. She uses a large amount of propaganda to smear and slander the opposition movement in hopes of wiping off the evil-doings of Beijing and the SAR government. Being ruled by such an arrogant and unreasonable government, we must write, publish and read more books like “The Rebellious Community” to keep a reliable historical record for us and our next generation so that we can resist the brainwashing campaign from those in power.

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