Wednesday, 23 November 2016

Yau Wai-ching: Taiwan should consider if it has sovereignty over the New Territories

Retracted letter by Yau Wai-ching to Taiwanese president Tsai Ing-wen 
Translated by K Li, written by Yau Wai-ching 游蕙禎 (Youngspiration) [Published on Liberty Times' website on 22 Nov 2016, retracted the same day after Yau declared it was only a "draft" not intended for issue]


22 November 2016

Ms Tsai Ing-wen
President
Republic of China

Madam President,

The so-called “interpretation of the Basic Law” issued by the government of the People’s Republic of China (mainland area of the Republic of China) on 7 November 2016 has in effect “changed the law” and seriously intervened the autonomy of Hong Kong. Without the scrutiny of Hong Kong’s legislature, the Chinese Communist Party has changed local laws without consent, and has clearly contravened the agreements made in the Joint Declaration of the Government of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and the Government of the People's Republic of China on the Question of Hong Kong (“Joint Declaration”).

My political party and I have sent a letter to the UK government to inform it of the PRC government’s crude means of intervening in the judicial independence and autonomy of HK. By “changing the law”, the CCP’s action has breached the BL’s Articles 22 and 158. A158 states that the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress of the PRC has the power to “interpret the law” only when HK’s Court of Final Appeal seeks an interpretation from the NPCSC itself on provisions of the BL concerning affairs which are the responsibility of the PRC government or those which concern the relationship between the PRC government and HK.

However, the CCP’s “interpretation of the law” this time has clearly breached the regulation of the BL and therefore relevant provisions of the Joint Declaration, raising questions as to whether the Joint Declaration has been rendered ineffective. The Declaration was a bilateral treaty signed between the UK and the PRC, and both countries are signatories of the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties. So if the PRC government rejects what the UK has required it to do in HK according to the Declaration, it has breached the Declaration. The UK should raise the dispute and the validity of the Joint Declaration to the International Court of Justice in accordance with A66 of the Vienna Convention, and consider to re-establish the status of HK before the handover on June 30, 1997.

According to the Treaty of Nanking and the Convention of Peking, the Qing Empire ceased its sovereignty over HK Island and Kowloon Peninsula (south of Boundary Street) permanently to the UK; while the New Territories was only leased to the UK for 99 years by the Qing Empire. The Joint Declaration should only have the power to handle the sovereignty of HKI and Kowloon, but not the New Territories. The Joint Declaration’s decision to treat the New Territories with HKI and Kowloon is itself controversial. The PRC has destroyed the agreements made in the Joint Declaration, the only attestation it has on the sovereignty it claims to “possess” over HK. In addition, the lease of the New Territories should have ended in 1997, which means the PRC has squatted in the New Territories for 19 years. I hope Your Excellency would seriously consider the issue of sovereignty of the New Territories.

On 9 June 1898, 56 years after HKI was ceded by the Qing Empire to the UK, the UK government signed with the Qing government in Peking the Convention for the Extension of Hong Kong Territory, and was leased the territories north of Boundary Street and south of the Sham Chun River, and the surrounding 233 islands for a period of 99 years until 30 June 1997. The Republic of China government still possesses the three treaties regarding the sovereignty of HK. If the Joint Declaration is no longer effective, the ROC government should state clearly its official stance regarding the status of the New Territories under the constitutional framework of the ROC. For instance, is the sovereignty of HKI and Kowloon different from that of the New Territories under the ROC’s constitutional framework? Will Your Excellency negotiate with the UK government on the matter?

May I suggest that Your Excellency give serious consideration to the aforementioned issue, solemnly state your position and follow up on it assiduously.

Yours sincerely,

Yau Wai-ching
Legally and democratically elected representative of the voice of HKers

中華民國
蔡總統英文女士鈞鑒﹕

中華人民共和國政府(中華民國大陸地區政權)於2016年11月7日頒佈所謂的「釋法」,其客觀效果等同「改法」,嚴重干預香港自治。中共在未經香港立法機關審議的情況下,為香港本地法例擅自「修法」,這顯然已違反 《中華人民共和國政府和大不列顛及北愛爾蘭聯合王國政府關於香港問題的聯合聲明》(“中英聯合聲明”)的協議。

就中華人民共和國政府粗暴干涉香港的司法獨立和香港自治之情況,本人與敝黨已去函英國政府陳述此事。中共擅自「修法」違反香港《基本法》第二十二條及第一百五十八條。第一百五十八條提到,香港終審法院要求中華人民共和國全國人民代表大會(“人大”),就《基本法》關於中華人民共和國政府管理的事務或中華人民共和國政府和香港關係的條款進行解釋,人大始有進行「釋法」之權力。然此次中共之「釋法」已明顯違反《基本法》之規定,亦連帶抵觸《中英聯合聲明》之相關條文,致使衍生《中英聯合聲明》失效之虞。該聲明為英國和中華人民共和國所締結之雙邊條約,自應適用《維也納條約法公約》(“公約”)之規定,尚且兩國皆為《維也納條約法公約》之締約國。故若中華人民共和國政府拒絕英國所提有關前者於香港之作為,已違反《中英聯合聲明》之爭端,英國得根據第66條向國際法院提請就此爭議及《中英聯合聲明》之效力作出裁決,並考慮恢復香港主權轉移前之地位,即一九九七年六月三十日。

根據《南京條約》及《北京公約》香港島及九龍半島(界限街以南)的主權是清國永久移交至英國,至於新界則是英國向清國租借99年。理應《中英聯合聲明》只能處理港九主權問題,無權擅自決定新界主權。《中英聯合聲明》逕自將新界和香港島、九龍一併處理,己顯有爭議。加以中華人民共和國破壞《中英聯合聲明》的協議,而該聲明卻為中共「擁有」香港主權所恃之唯一依據。另外,新界租借期早於1997年結束,中華人民共和國竊據新界十九載,本人希望總統閣下能認真關注新界主權問題。

1898年6月9日,香港島從清國割讓予英國的56年,英國政府與清政府在北京簽訂《展拓香港界址專條》,租借由九龍界限街以北,至深圳河以南土地,連同附近233個島嶼,為期99年,到1997年6月30日為止。若《中英聯合聲明》不再有效,中華民國政府仍保留有關香港主權問題之三份條約,中華民國政府宜就新界於中華民國憲法框架下之地位及屬性,表明及陳述官方立場。例如,港九的主權和新界的主權在中華民國憲法框架下有否分別?而總統閣下會否就此與英國政府進行交涉?

建議總統閣下審酌上情,並表達嚴正立場,積極應為處為禱。就上述事宜,本人盼總統閣下予以跟進。專此函達,並頌政安!

經合法民主選舉產生之香港民意代表
游蕙禎 謹啟

二○一六年十一月廿二日

Monday, 14 November 2016

Ernie Chow: Illusion No More - Speech on 9 Nov Rally

Speech by Chairman of CUHK Student Union Ernie Chow at the rally against NPCSC’s interpretation of the Basic Law on 9 Nov
Translated by K Li, spoken by Ernie Chow 周竪峰 on 9 November 2016

Standing on this stage, I would very much like to follow the example of veterans in the democratic camp and shout with all my might “China has no right to interfere Hong Kong’s domestic affairs”, “uphold the rule of law” and “safeguard judicial independence”, and chant thrice with everybody here “shame on the Chinese Communist Party for destroying One Country, Two Systems and our high degree of autonomy”.

For many of you who took it to the streets today, I know it's the slogans of upholding the rule of law and safeguarding judicial independence that got you here. But we students want to tell you clearly that the concepts of “rule of law” and “judicial independence” you want to guard against, and the so-called One Country, Two Systems principle or high degree of autonomy have never existed here right from the beginning.

Former deputy secretary-general of the HK Federation of Students Lester Shum said yesterday, “HK’s rule of law did not die. It has never even existed ever since the Basic Law came into force”. With the NPCSC overriding HK laws with a free rein, even the basic requirement of the principle that “no one is above the law” could not be achieved here. In other words, so long as Article 158 stays in the HK Basic Law, HK could never enjoy the rule of law.

In the past 20 years, we have been deluding ourselves. We have been deluding ourselves into thinking that the CCP would not use up all its powers. We have been deluding ourselves that HK enjoys an independent judiciary that is independent from the CCP’s rules. We have been deluding ourselves that the BL can protect all the freedoms and rights we should be entitled. We have been living in denial about the cruel facts behind this illusion. The rule of law we prided ourselves with or even One Country, Two Systems itself are at the mercy of someone else.

I want to tell you a story here. Back in the 80s, when the Basic Law was being drafted, Albert Ho from the Hong Kong Affairs Society suggested to write into the Basic Law that “residual powers” shall belong to Hong Kong, in order to achieve “a high degree of autonomy” in real terms. What are the “residual powers”? These are those powers not codified in the text of the Basic Law. If the history were to change and these residual powers were given to Hongkongers then, the CCP would no longer have the right to interfere in anything other than such specified areas as diplomacy, military and national security. This has been the dream of all Hongkongers, including everybody here, in the past twenty years when we think about our high degree of autonomy.

However, the reality is that the CCP stated explicitly at a meeting of the Basic Law Drafting Committee that the issue has no room for discussion as China is not a federation but a unitary state, and all residual powers belong to the central authorities. And so, the reality of One Country, Two Systems became a complete opposite of what we have dreamed of: even the expectation that the CCP has no rights to interfere in anything except those stated to be in their domain by the Basic Law is not true. The truth is that except those rights explicitly stated in the Basic Law, Hongkongers enjoy no other rights and the CCP has the full power to manipulate us in whatever way it wishes. We don’t even have the right to say no.

You might still have the hope that the CCP could not strip you of those rights explicitly safeguarded by provisions in the Basic Law. Sorry, I tell you with regret here that CCP could still take these rights away easily with an “interpretation”s of the Basic Law. So long as the power of interpretation is within the hands of the CCP, the Basic Law is nothing but a pile of scrap paper.

It is 2016 now, and Hongkongers have deceived themselves for nearly 20 years. We cannot continue to delude ourselves and must open our eyes wide to recognise the ugliness surrounding us, to look at this era when all conventions are challenged, to identify the CCP’s deceit over its promise of One Country, Two Systems and high degree of autonomy. No, we do not have the rule of law, we do not have a high degree of autonomy, and we do not have the protection of the Basic Law. But from today onwards, if we could realise what is behind the facet of our enemy, and stop expecting that CCP would give us democracy, and not dwell on the illusion of One Country, Two Systems, and stride along our own path, then we will have the power to rebel, to revolutionise and to overthrow the unfairness and unjust here so we can free ourselves from the grasps of the CCP. If we can figure out what our enemy is really like from today onwards, we will know how to better utilise our power in achieving self-determination, independence or even in starting our own country. We will one day be able to overthrow the Hong Kong communist regime that has long suppressed us.

If we want things to stay as they are, things will have to change. If you want Hong Kong to maintain its prosperity and economic stability, our officials to remain clean and follow the law in discharging their duties, our people to live well, you will have to fight! Put your illusions aside and look at the truth: what is before us is unprecedented darkness in Hong Kong. But if we resist being hypnotised by the darkness and oppose to being engulfed by despair, we will see unprecedented brightness after such darkness. May God bless Hong Kong, may we unite in saving ourselves!

Thank you very much.

Monday, 19 September 2016

Marcus Lau: What Are the Hong Kong Separatists Thinking?

What Are the Hong Kong Separatists Thinking?
Written by Marcus Lau


Hong Kong - A brand new school year to many means another purchase of absurdly expensive textbooks, but school year in Hong Kong is not like ever before.

Followed by banning separatists figures like Edward Leung and Andy Chan Ho-tin from running the legislative council election, high school students advocating Hong Kong independence were prohibited from distributing flyers on campus. Chief Executive Chun-Ying Leung depicted the belief of Hong Kong independence as if it is drugs or swear words. Meanwhile, teachers face potential disqualification if they encourage discussion of the topic in the classroom. The question here is, where do these ideals of Hong Kong independence come from?

The last time Hong Kong appeared on headlines all over the world was two years ago when the Umbrella Revolution broke out. The 79-day occupation demanding democracy marked its failure when the police cleared up the occupation zones in Admiralty, Mong Kok and Causeway Bay. The revolution did not leave Hong Kong people with nothing though. It enlightens youth of Hong Kong that Hong Kong would never gain genuine democracy under the sovereignty of China.

The end of the movement opens a new page for the political dynamics in Hong Kong. Young people started to organise for social resistance and elections. Varied from the path of the traditional democrats who adhere to a Chinese identity as well as China’s sovereignty on Hong Kong, the rising localists suggest that Hong Kong is an imagined community itself with its own culture and set of values and shall enjoy a self-determination right, especially when the constitution Hong Kong is adopting (i.e. Basic Law) is facing an expiry in 2047. In March this year, the Hong Kong National Party (HKNP) was founded as the first political party that advocates Hong Kong independence. Later in August, when the Hong Kong government slammed the door for certain candidates, HKNP held a rally titled “Hong Kong independence”, over 10,000 people attended.

From a recent poll we can tell 17 percent of the Hong Kong population supports Hong Kong independence, and among the age group of 15-24, the support doubled at 40 percent. To the older generation, Hong Kong and China is like mother and son. To separatists, Hong Kong and China is in a broken marriage and Hong Kong is suffering from brutal domestic violence. Like much Taiwanese and Catalonian, youth wants to separate from China. They don’t see “One country, two systems” promised by the Sino-British Joint Declaration could guarantee Hong Kong with a high degree of autonomy as written in the declaration when the political power rests mostly in the hands of the Chinese government.

Despite unprecedented repression on freedom of expression, a separatist movement is developing its way led by the generation that undergone the umbrella revolution. Foreseeably, the Chinese government would use any means to suppress the movement from spreading as any separatist movements would undermine the legitimacy of the Chinese government. However, the honesty of history never fails to reveal the truth that the harder the repression, the stronger the reaction.

Monday, 5 September 2016

Marcus Lau: Reflections & Analysis after Election

Reflections & Analysis after Election
Translated by Chen-t'ang 鎮棠, written by Marcus Lau Yee-ching (Former editor-in-chief, Undergrad, HKUSU) [1027, 05 Sept 2016]
Original: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=1134648589937655&set=a.122206674515190.20330.100001775756809&type=3 

The outcome of the LegCo election is basically decided. [By the time of writing,] the accurate figures were not released, but looking at the seat distributions, there are some points worth looking at.

1 – The Election in HK Will Soon Become “Malaysian-style” Election
Please bear in mind that there are five candidates being screened out (Edward Leung, Chan Ho-tin, Nakade Hitsujiko, Chan Kwok-keung, Alice Lai) due to their political stances. So no matter what, this election is by no means a democratic one, but an unconstitutional election waiting to be overturned. Ridiculous things happened during the election campaign period showed that the election in Hong Kong will gradually be interfered and manipulated by the government in different ways. First, presiding officers of poll stations can take ballot boxes home, but the luggage boxes with ballot papers were not even sealed. On the election day, some voters saw others using a photocopy of HKID card to vote, some voters “were voted by others”, some votes were considered invalid as they were torn a bit; power outage was seen in a poll station in North District. During vote count period, a presiding officer delayed the vote count result (Kowloon Park station), and a station had some “extra fake votes” in the ballot boxes (Sheung Tak station, Tseung Kwan O), etc. The government has lots of ways to interfere elections. If there are LegCo elections in the future, they would be rather dim.

2 – New Social Activism Bloc is Formed
Three members from the new social activism bloc (or “Demosisto” bloc), Lau Siu-lai (Kowloon West), Eddie Chu Hoi-dick (NT West), Nathan Law (HK Island), won with higher percentages of votes. Three of them gained the most votes in the non-establishment camp in their constituencies, and this is quite surprising to everyone. “Demosisto” bloc supported self-determination and non-violent confrontation. It took a “left-leaning” stance  economically, supporting universal retirement protection and advocating social connections. However, this bloc failed to mention the crux of HK-China relationship, such as the approval right of One-way Permit and the welfare of new mainland immigrants. What do their higher percentages of votes symbolise? Since the Umbrella Movement in 2014, the rise of the new social activism bloc has shown a different image from other traditional activist parties, which emphasised on their connections with workers or the grass root. The young, fresh and reforming image of the new social activism bloc has gained lots of support from the “Umbrella Generation”. Both being first-timers in LegCo Election, “Demosisto” bloc outperformed Youngspiration, and perhaps this is what localists should reflect on. Nathan Law was more known after the Umbrella Revolution, while Eddie Chu has participated in the protest against the removal of Queen Pier back in 2006. Chu kept on revealing the collusion between “government, commercial sector, rural sector and triad gangs”, and Chu's connections and network can never be underestimated. However, Lau Siu-lai has few “groundwork” in her constituency. After “coordinating” with Oscar Lai in less than half a year ago, Lau won with over 30,000 votes, and this is worth noting [Translator's note: final votes obtained – 38,183]. 

With the entry of “Demosisto” bloc, the huge “leftist social activism industry chain” will return. With lots of resources from LegCo, the key would hinge on students' unions across different universities. Opinion leaders around this chain, such as Chow Po-chung and YC Chen, will also return, after a period of silence. For localists or independence supporters, it would be a challenge to strengthen the localist forces formed in the tertiary education sector in the past two years.

3 – More Fragmented Landscape in LegCo
With people recommended by Chinese Liaison Office entering the Council (Junius Ho, Eunice Yung, etc.), the forces of New Pro-Beijing Bloc (NT rural sector, Business and Professionals Alliance for Hong Kong and New People's Party) will be more solid. During an interview with the press, Nathan Law said he will not participate in the pan-dem joint alliance and will be on his own. For localism camp, originally there was only one seat (Raymond Wong), but now there are 2 from Youngspiration (Yau Wai-ching and Baggio Leung) and 1 from Civic Passion (Cheng Chung-tai), totalling 3 seats. Although both camps had some arguments with each other, two organisations share the most similar minds among all first-timers, so it is believed that there are rooms for cooperation in the future. The pan-dem camp has not changed much, so I would not comment for now.

Fragmentation of the Council becomes the trend, and for now, I cannot foresee any figure who can unite people from establishment camp or non-establishment camp, so it is expected that there will be no major breakthrough in the Council for the coming four years. The core of Hong Kong politics will still be “from streets to Council”. With lots of blocs in the council, there will be more variables. I cannot tell whether it is a blessing or a curse as of now, but I believed that a change, no matter a better one or a worse one, must be done to change the current plight in Hong Kong.

4 – Pan-dem's “Backroom Deal” - VotSonar – Plays Vital Role

VotSonar was initially a joke due to its small amount of sample size. However, Apple Daily listed a “support/sacrifice” (S/S) list [棄保名單] from VotSonar and used its media influence to promote such list. Yet, such S/S list was only supported by around 40,000 users and these users do not even know how the list was calculated. No one really knows how the list was generated. When the list was all over Apple Daily, the list became an indicating S/S list for the entire Hong Kong. Many voters who have not vote around the evening voted according to the list. According to the S/S list for NT East, my friend's family gave three votes to separate candidates, Gary Fan, Ray Chan (Fast Beat) and Fernando Cheung. The influence of the S/S list was much stronger then the participants of VotSonar, and there are even suggestions to cast all votes for Slow Beat (Tam Tak-chi) in Kowloon East.

VotSonar has a great excuse – to send as many non-establishment candidates into the council as it can. It used precious votes to support pan-dem candidates, some of which may be at risk, eventually sacrificing localist candidates. Take Kowloon East as an example, as “78% voters do not want to vote for Wong Yeung-tat”, so the plan “does not have to consider Wong”. When this result was spread out by Apple Daily, voters only have to know they have to cast all votes to Slow Beat, but voters would not know Wong Yeung-tat was not considered by VotSonar. Same case for Raymond Wong, Baggio Leung and Horace Chin Wan-kan. This is absolutely misleading voters. Apple Daily has once and again supported pan-dem candidates by using its media influence. These pan-dem councillors are mostly on the position of sinecures. Three decades have passed, do we have more time to waste anymore?

Now, “quitting” strategy. Few days before the election day, Civic Party's Sumly Chan and Labour's Suzanne Wu quitted the election by ending their campaigns. Even if this cannot “transfer” votes, this can show that the situation of the pan-dem is on the brink. With VotSonar S/S list, swing votes will go to non-establishment camp naturally. Candidates from the pan-dem camp quitted nearly at the same time, but is that just a coincidence? The last candidate who quitted was Kwan Wing-yip from Neo Democrats, and he said the “withdrawal” was the “darkest day in his political career”. Sumly Chan said he has spent every cent of his own for the election, and has no idea to pull out. Suddenly he had a press conference with other candidates on the same day. If you link the financial sources behind these parties, you can understand why there is such “collective pull-out”.

VotSonar-Apple Daily-S/S strategy integrated together and boosted pan-dem candidates. The outcome showed that those ranked lower in election polls, such as Ray Chan (Fast Beat), Nathan Law, Ted Hui and Fernando Cheung, got more votes than polls would have expected. It showed that the plan worked out, but the devil in the detail is as dirty as pro-Beijing camp's “number in the palm”.

5 –
I guess you can figure out how localist camp can reflect. But if I put it straight, I believe you will not listen, so I will leave it blank. The only thing I'd say is, we have chosen the easiest yet the most stupid way, and those who share similar ideas were harmed.

Conclusions
There are lots of other things that worth analysing, but I will leave that to others. I would like to encourage those who felt disappointed to this election, especially localists, “Pass on the torch. Never give up the faith. Keep the light burning.” (from The Grandmaster). I cannot say this election is a victory [to localist camp – translator's note], but I can still see the slightest hope in danger. We must not be frustrated, because, we are nothing but the only Hongkongers in the world. We are still the masters of this land.

The world will eventually belong to us.

Friday, 26 August 2016

[Undergrad/HKUSU] The Gap Between Two Hong Kongs: Seriously Looking at Hong Kong Independence

The Gap Between Two Hong Kongs: Seriously Looking at Hong Kong Independence
Translated by Casey Chang, written and edited by Mervyn Ho (Undergrad, HKUSU August 2016)



After the outbreak of instabilities in the beginning of the year, Hong Kong  now  faces another troubled summer.

The shocking press conference of the bookseller Lam Wing-kei busted the Chinese myth of "one country, two systems" (1C2S). The incident has stirred some uneasiness in the general public, yet it has not made the mainstream “elite politicians” recognise the fragility of the so-called "one country, two systems". Also, Lam's testimony did not receive enough attention from "pro-human right" western countries as they did not exert substantial pressure and sanctions on China regarding the Causeway Bay bookstore incident. The severity of the incident is supposed to be devastating enough to shake the confidence of "1C2S", but it only brings about nothing but merely nominal support from a few local and international pressure groups as a result of weeks of vehement protests. Following the fruitless clash with the police by some localist activists on 1st July, the political energy brought by Lam Wing-kei has gradually died down. All these events serve as a cruel reminder of the indifferent attitude of Hong Kong's public and the realist nature  of international politics.

Meanwhile, as  the LegCo election approaches, the rivalry between newly-rising localist and traditional democratic camp has reached its climax. On political arenas such as 4th June Candlelight Vigil and 1st July Protest, the two sides parted with or even rivalled against each other. With the escalation  of Chinese-Hong Kong tensions and increasing calls for Hong Kong's self-determination or even independence, it is imperative that the political landscape of Hong Kong politics will undergo drastic transformation. We have reached a historical turning point shadowed with uncertainty.Where would the post-1C2S Hong Kong go?

The abrupt end of Lam's incident indicates one thing: no matter how localists strive hard to draw support and to get media coverage, the "self-determination" and "independence" claims have never been treated seriously by the ruling business and social elites. The independence claims are considered by Chinese officials, elites and democrats as "impossible, extreme, populist, xenophobic and self-isolated protectionism, lack of economic and political possibilities" and the ideas are only political opportunism advanced by a small number of radicals, and therefore they should not deserve any attention. They simply consider  the option of independence as "unconstitutional and illegal" and bar the independence supporters from running LegCo election even the decision runs into the risk of violating their civil rights guaranteed by the Basic Law.

The localists’ fury is understandable, but one should keep in mind that elites  only calculate the merits of policies by cost-benefit analysis; the benefits generated by the favourable business environment in China, the access to greater China market, legal protection and the free economy system provided by 1C2S remained supremely important to them. Therefore, according to their cost-benefit analysis – it is imperative that the “minor sacrifices” of the dissidents' civic and political rights   are necessary after all in pursuit of the enormous profits brought by 1C2S. The screams and shouts of protests do not have even the slightest disturbance on the prosperous business activities and the clanking of champagnes that are taking  place in the skyscrapers in Central or Admiralty.

As a result, the city is split into two parts. On one hand there are financial complexes, office towers, and luxuriant shopping malls where high-educated, English and Mandarin-speaking white-collars exchange news of global stock market. On the other hand, it shows an unpleasant image of the city where features jumble of narrow alleys, overcrowded public estate and old mansions inhabited by intermixed neighbourhood of the locals and immigrants speaking various languages and dialects; hawkers running away from the police, smugglers from China chased after by disgruntled local youths. The rapid change of living environment, the sprout of jewellery shops and pharmacies changing the face of old neighbourhood, the invasive presenceof Mandarin, and the skyrocketing housing price level have deepened the anxiety of the locals.

There is an irrevocable gap dividing the city into two parts: the upper class refuses to accept any proposal of reforms and denounces any  form of protest as “radical” since they do not understand the anger and anxiety from the other side. And now who can represent and speak for them? For the past, the democrats played the role of the opposition, but now these law school graduates, “global citizens” are unable to handle such anxiety and to answer their demand for an “imagined community”. In a rather bizarre fashion, “Hong Kong nation” comes into being and becomes an important historical force.

The formation of Hong Kong nation is not only about a nostalgic feeling towards the past, but a serious political discourse and struggle which concerns issues such as immigration policy, allocation of social resources, education and legitimacy of using violence. As the popularity of the Hong Kong nationalism grows, the idea of "us and them" starts to weigh more importance than economic efficiency and universal value in political decision.  Although the essence of Hong Kong nationalism calls into question, the idea itself is widely interpreted as the resistance against the oppression of Chinese nationalism. Hong Kong society changes too rapidly after 1997:  Regardless of the reasons are the oppression of crony capitalism or influx of Chinese immigrants, the truth is that most  Hongkongers feel that the living space that they once enjoyed is increasingly being threatened. The grandiose plan of “Chinese dream” proposed by the Chinese government has failed to turn things around and win the hearts of Hongkongers back. All these factors make the image of “a weak nation against an oppressive power” attractive to many Hongkongers.

Hong Kong nationalists can better capture how the common Hongkongers feel nowadays: its carefully cultivated theories on culture and politics  have successfully separated the”Hong Kong nation” from the nation of China, and associate all social and political issues through  the perspective of “survival of Hong Kong nation”: Issues such as medical reform, the national anthem controversy on the soccer field, the medium of instruction in schools, the clash between street hawkers and policemen, every aspect of people's daily life has been turned into battlefields of fighting for the very existence of Hong Kong nation. The awareness of Hong Kong nationalism grows following each round of political mobilisations and controversies stimulated by social media, and it has profoundly challenged the discourse previously dominated by left-leaning liberals and conservative political economists on socio-political issues.

The mainstream is unable to respond to localist's demand for independence or self-determination with proper ideas  and simply downplays them as "fascists" or "populists”. Both sides lack common vocabularies to discuss their ideas, and the cracks are further widened by  stratosphere effects caused by the use of social media.The divide will only be worse in future.

If Britain had never colonised Hong Kong, or Communist China had never claimed Hong Kong back, or the promise given by 1C2S had been duly fulfilled, then the idea of Hong Kong independence would never become popular. It is ironic that the idea of Hong Kong nation shares the same loophole of Chinese nationalism, both being politically constructed ideas that are manufactured conveniently to serve real-life political needs. However,  precisely because Hong Kong nationalists understand that “nations” are products of real-life political conflicts rather than vice versa, it legitimatizes the birth of the Hong Kong nation against the arbitrary official discourse of Chinese nationalism, which claims that national identity is inherent and unchangeable. It is a truly remarkable historic event that in nowadays world, which national borders are thought to be  stable and colonialism is thought to be part of history, there can be a genuinely new nation given birth in a global metropolis in the peripheral area of China.

The rise of Hong Kong nationalism is an extraordinary by-product under the unique circumstances of Hong Kong history. However, keen observers may find the local separatist movement as part of the historical momentum of populism and the counter-nationalism in the post-modern world. The shocking result of Brexit, or the rise of Donald Trump (and Bernie Sanders) are often seen as the resistance by the upset mass against thglobalisationon, neoliberalism and politic elitism. The step down of Cameron also reveals the disconnection between the British government and European Parliament and the labour class, especially those from the old industrial area.

In the aftermath of Brexit, the mainstream media blamed the Brexit supporters as poorly-educated populists who selfishly destroyed the future of British youths. The arguments ignore the other side of the shinning appearance of the EU: the decline of low value-added industries due to the opening of market, wealth gap brought by neo-liberal policy of tighter fiscal control, slump of workers’ salary, shortage of jobs because of competitions of immigrants, cultural shocks, the influx of refugee, the fears of security. The success of Brexit is not a ridiculous joke but a dire warning to the ruling class in this world.

Many have warned about the EU governance model, but the ruling class remains indifferent and does not treat this rise of right-wing populist seriously. The EU demands British to act according to the result of the referendum, and it plans to punish Britons severely in order to deter anyone who wanted to follow suit. London wanted to postpone the triggering of Article 50. Meanwhile, an international law firm attempts to void the result of referendum through judicial appeal. Also, mainstream media view the majority Brexit supporters with contempt. British leaders are trying hard to block the result decided by the means of direct democracy, which showed the hypocrisy of western parliamentary democracy.

Comparing Hong Kong to these western countries with long democratic tradition, the Hong Kong independence movement has more headwinds include the influence of China's authoritarian regime, the rise of Chinese nationalism and despotic HKSARG, but Hong Kong localists and western right wing nationalists share many similarities: they are both facing dominance from a super-nation organisation or a superpower, economic competition from immigrants, heavier burden of social resources allocation, clash of culturesand degeneration of local lifestyle and habits due to intrusion of cosmopolitanism, and the widening gap between the poor and the elites. Traditional left-right party politics remained solid throughout the world, but cracks and crisis are everywhere. The problem has been aggravated after HKSARG has disqualified a Hong Kong nationalist candidate from running LegCo election. According to the recent survey by CUHK, support for localism remains a minority part of the city’s population. The fact that most of them are young people shows obvious generation differences. However, the voice of discontent would not simply vanish after  they are “muted” in the establishment; they would go back to the streets, to every household, and the uncompromising conflict between these “two Hong Kongs” will persist every day.

The significance of Brexit is that western democracy cannot solve the deep-seated social conflict caused by theglobalised world,  but will aggravate social divisions prolonged conflicts due to the exercise of direct democracy. To Hong Kong nationalists, the ultimate solution of the plight of Hong Kong is not “true democracy” but full independence, border control, reinvigoration of local culture, and strengthening of social bonds and identitys within the same political community However, the leaderless situation of Brexit camp shows that drawing support within the country is not hard, but negotiation with a far more formidable opponent will be a much more challenging  struggle. Weak nations are  ignored in the arena of international politics The nationalists have little bargaining power to gain  substantial international support at the moment: Hong Kong as a financial and logistic hub provides some favourable termsin theory , but they are more possibly the major obstacles for advocates of Hong Kong independence.

No matter it is establishment camp’s agendas such as "Belt and Road initiative" or 'China's dream", pan-dems' "the battle against 689" or localists' "general “self-determination” or "Hong Kong independence", all of them have mistaken Hong Kong as an unified entity without internal conflicts. They thought of bankers, lawyers, labourers, and rag-pickers within a single community as people sharing  common interest and goals e. They often assume that once the common goal is achieved, every Hong Konger will live happily ever after. Such common mistakes are made by both supporters of Hong Kong nationalists and liberals who failed to consider the social class divisions. Diversification and complication exist not only within the “imagined communities” but also among the “ethnic compatriots”. Asking the labour class to accept immigrants competing for jobs is as absurd as requesting business leaders to support the cause of Hong Kong independence. The ideological differences and social division between two sides has generated more strife and conflicts.

The solution, other than the traditional economist’s cost-benefit analysis of “achieve the general good”, must include the leftist's idea of wealth redistribution and nationalist's concern of constructing a shared identity. But if one takes a closer look, he or she may find the contradiction between the basic assumptions behind each of these theories and at the end of the day. It is hard to blame localist youth in taking the “valorous” path of violence after all.

As the society is deeply bipolarised (or tripolarised?), problems are increasingly difficult to  be solved with dialogues or debates. Instead, each side mobilizes its own supporters on the “stratosphere” of social networks and engages in verbal or even physical conflicts. What more likely happens in future is not the glory of independence but the disintegration of the society. Only the unpredictable force of history can tell who can be the final winner. Is the trend a boon or a bane for Hong Kong? Who knows?

Saturday, 20 August 2016

[Undergrad/HKUSU] Stephen Ku: The Empire on its Way to Death

The Empire on Its Way to Death
Translated by Cesar Guarde-Paz, written by Stephen Ku (Undergrad, HKUSU August 2016)
(Photo: Pixabay)
In 1841, shortly after British troops landed Hong Kong, Charles Elliot, Chief Superintendent of British Trade immediately announced that Hong Kong was a free port. Hong Kong’s economy achieved thereafter a rapid growth through entrepôt trade, leading to the subsequent development of other areas, such as the cultural industry. In the 1970s, when the Cultural Revolution broke out in China and right in the middle of a serious setback both to its economy and to its people’s livelihood, Hong Kong’s trade industries were in the apex of its development, gradually rising upon the world’s stage as an international financial centre. Even if there were usual economic exchanges between Hong Kong and China, such as the outflow of capital from Hong Kong’s industries to China in the 1980s and 1990s, the economic systems of Hong Kong and China have always kept an adequate distance between themselves. However, since the transfer of sovereignty on 1 July 1997 the SAR Government has acted as the colonial agents of the Chinese Communist Party in Hong Kong and has begun to eradicate any difference between Hong Kong and China, for instance, by promoting the “Hong Kong-China economic integration”, slowly making Hong Kong’s economic structure more and more dependent on China’s situation, sowing the seeds for the common notion of “Without Chinese economy there would be no Hong Kong”. In 2003, after the SARS outbreak, Hong Kong and China signed the “Mainland and Hong Kong Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement” (CEPA), reducing barriers for trading between Hong Kong and China and lifting restrictions for individual visits from China to Hong Kong (Individual Visit Scheme) [translator's note: before China had travel restrictions for its people regarding visiting Hong Kong and Macau]. Since then, the focus of Hong Kong’s economy in trade, tourism, etc. has gradually moved towards China, with Hong Kong suffering a growing influence of the so-called red capitalism.

In an article published in February 2016 under the title “A materialist interpretation of the Chinese Communist Party violation of the promises of ‘One country, two systems; high degree of autonomy’”, political commentator Joseph Lian described how Hong Kong has received the obnoxious influence of red capitalism: “Red capitalism is really fond of Hong Kong. Over the last decade, it has had a significant presence, accounting for 40% to 60% of the total market capitalization of the recent Hong Kong’s stock market. Among the companies listed on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange, there are usually more than fifteen of the top twenty shares, ranked by market capitalization, which can be labelled as “red capitalism”. Lian points out that red capitalism has already become the “economic foundation” of Hong Kong and is gradually undermining Hong Kong’s culture, politics, institutions, etc.: “The reason everybody is contemplating the distortion and eroding of the ‘One country, two systems; high degree of autonomy’ policy lies not only behind the fact that the ideology of the authorities is different from ours but, more importantly, behind the revelation and implementation of the will behind this red capitalism”. The leak of the Panama Papers shocked the world. An investigation report led by “Ming Pao” revealed that many scions of the Chinese Communist Party’s leadership who possess a Hong Kong Permanent Resident Status control offshore companies. Hong Kong has been reduced to a very convenient place for this crony elite to launder money. Whether it is the influence of red capitalism on Hong Kong, or Hong Kong’s value for this type of capitalism, the question should not be ignored.

The colonial proxies in Hong Kong who continuously endorse the crony elite of the Chinese Communist Party have transformed Hong Kong into the stepping-stone of China’s economic development. In a policy address delivered by CY Leung in 2016, the Chief Executive points out many times how Hong Kong’s economy should continue to move closer to China: “This year marks the start of the National 13th Five-Year Plan and the implementation of the Belt and Road Initiative, as well as the launch of various innovation and technology initiatives.  It will be a year of significant opportunities for Hong Kong’s future.  Taking forward plans in hand, all HKSAR Government departments will be heavily engaged in their work”. Because of this, Leung proposed in his policy address to “enhance co-operation and exchanges between the Mainland and Hong Kong/Macao in the areas of social policies, livelihood issues, technology, culture, education, environmental protection, etc., as well as deepen regional cooperation in the Pan-Pearl River Delta Region.”. Xi Jinping’s proposed strategy, the so-called “Belt and Road initiative”, was mentioned by Leung in his policy address no fewer than 44 times, becoming the “top priority” of his policy address. It is so obvious that how CY Leung brown-nosed China, and help China to make plans for Hong Kong.

Due to the regime’s much trumpeted lemma “Chinese economy improves”, and set against the background of the “Hong Kong-China economic partnership sharing weal and woe”, the discourse of “Hong Kong Independence” is over and over under attack: those against Hong Kong independence, besides the paradoxical argument of “Hong Kong has been a part of China since ancient times”, they will also hardly forget to say “Hong Kong’s economy has always been dependent on China”, “if ‘grandpa’ is not happy, China will impose economic sanctions on Hong Kong”. An editorial published by Wen Wei Po on April 27 criticized Hong Kong independence for bringing terrible economic consequences for Hongkongers: “Founded on the Rule of Law and good government and thanks to the regional advantages due to the motherland’s support and the preferential policies from the central government, Hong Kong has become an international financial, trading, and logistics center. The consequences of ‘Hong Kong independence’ flood will be the disintegration of that position and those advantages. Do Hongkongers want to become the victims of ‘Hong Kong independence’?”. What is noteworthy about this is that those who uphold the aforementioned arguments include, besides the Party mouthpieces endorsing the regime, many pan-democrat activists. The Democratic Legislative Councillor Emily Lau pointed out on a forum in January 2015 that Hong Kong’s food and water resources are dependent on Chinese imports, and a lot of people work either in China or in a company managed by Chinese. Therefore, Hong Kong lacks the prerequisite for independence. 

In a survey conducted this year by HKUSU Undergrad, entitled “Politics and protest”, one of the questions asked was, if Hong Kong should uphold a referendum to decide whether “Hong Kong should become an independent country”. 61% of the students voted in favour of the referendum in case Beijing did not approve it, but with Beijing’s approval, the result was then 65%. This slight difference more or less reflects the attitude of some Hongkongers: they support Hong Kong independence in their hearts, but because they are afraid that an “unhappy” China will take vengeance with economic and border sanctions, they do not dare to stand out. Therefore, on the emergence of Hong Kong independence wave emergence and strengthening, the society is prevalent with bearish sentiments in this wave: some people believe that China is an undefeatable economic and political giant –“If you offend the Chinese Communist Party it won’t end well”, “this tiny piece of land called Hong Kong has to be under their command for good, we cannot oppose it”. But as the story of David and Goliath tells us, even giants can be defeated, and that “empire” called China is by no means invincible.

Why Nations Fail 
American scholars Daron Acemoglu and James A. Robinson point out in their book Why Nations Fail: The Origins of Power, Prosperity, and Poverty that political institutions are a prerequisite for economic development, and that it is only under inclusive institutions (those with fair market rules and protection of private property rights) that nations can achieve sustainable development. In contrast, extractive institutions (those with a small political elite dominating the country) will lead to the collapse of the country, caught within the vicious circle of extractive political and economic policies whose development cannot be sustained. And after its establishment by the Chinese Communist Party, China’s “political and economic institutions […] were highly extractive” (p. 420). 

In 1978, the Chinese Communist Party decided to focus on economic modernization rather than class struggle, with Deng Xiaoping, Hu Yaobang and others trying to implement inclusive economic institutions. The consequences of opening-up policies reform were that: the rural economy took off and state-owned companies bloomed. However, despite the rapid economic development, the economy was merely developing under an extractive institutional system: in 2003 entrepreneur Dai Guofang’s company competing against a state-owned enterprise led to his detention. Dai is just a victim of the exclusive institutional system, a proof that fair competition is almost impossible to exercise in China. The current governance of the People’s Republic of China is no different from the Soviet Union during the decades of 1960s and 1970s. China “is similarly unlikely to generate sustained growth unless it undergoes a fundamental political transformation toward inclusive political institutions” (p. 151). This is the case for any country in the world, without exception. But the fact remains that the Chinese Communist Party will only maintain a one-party dictatorship and will never allow the existence of any other political party. The authors quote the words of Premier Wen Jiabao: “If there is no guarantee of reform of the political system, then results obtained from the reform of the economic system may be lost”. In an authoritarian regime, even if there is a short period of economic growth, the lack of inclusive institutions and the destruction of creativity will, after all, hinder a long-term development and bring it all to an inescapable end.

In an article published in 2015 by The Wall Street Journal under the title “The Coming Chinese Crackup”, leading China expert David Shambaugh holds similar views with Daron Acemoglu and James A. Robinson. The article points out five indications of the upcoming downfall of the Chinese Communist regime:

First, the economic elites have one foot out the door and they are ready to flee China en masse;
second, Xi Jinping’s regime has intensified its pervasive repression of freedom of press;
third, many regime loyalists are feigning compliance with the empty talk reforms;
fourth, the extend of the corruption problem;
and fifth, the big, hidden troubles that plague China’s economy.

Shambaugh states that the Chinese Communist Party clearly aware of the fact that China’s political system is like the emperor wearing no clothes, and Xi’s tyrannical governance has further pushed China’s system pressure to the brink of a breakdown: “The endgame of Chinese communist rule has now begun, I believe, and it has progressed further than many thinks”. And all the aforementioned problems can only be solved through political reform.

Although in 2016 Shambaugh said that he was not a “collapsist”, but wished China will have a different path, however, this does not affect to his main point, that “without reform, China has no future”. It is clear that today the Chinese Communist Party will not implement fundamental political reforms to resolve its actual crisis. In 2013, Xi Jinping issued the following “Great speech”: “if our party can’t even handle food-safety issues properly, and keeps on mishandling them, then people will ask whether we are fit to keep ruling China”. In 2014 the fourth plenary conference of the eighth session of the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party emphasised the “Rule of Law”, “to insist on the dominant role of the people”, “to insist on equality before the law”, etc. And then the Chinese Communist Party promptly overthrew itself: in March 2016 when China suffered the vaccine scandal, each social networking platform in China called for the removal of any “unfavourable” information, including the previous passage from Xi Jinping’s “Great Speech”, which was widely quoted by netizens. A man who asked Xi Jinping to resign was arrested. When on June, the land rights movement in Wukan village erupted again, the activist leader Lin Zulian was taken away by force by the police, who were waiting in the village, fully equipped. Ironically, when the villagers marched they waved the national flag, as they loudly cried out: “Long life to the Chinese Communist Party! Down with corrupt officials! Give us back our land!”. But no one should feel pity for them: a group of fools whose land had been taken away yet are so lucky to have the Party as their consolation, advocating unrealistic feudal ideas such as “I am only against corrupt officials, not against the emperor”. The Chinese Communist Party is a hopeless, hypocrite regime which expects to improve itself by saying things like “according to the Rule of Law” and “Down with corruption” – there is no doubt that these are just the late-night ravings of a lunatic. The Economist has evaluated Xi in the following terms: it seems that Xi Jinping doesn’t have time to make the Chinese Communist Party abide “according to the Rule of Law”, to implement bold social reforms, or to end state-owned enterprise that bankrupted many years ago. Yet, he can use any means necessary to consolidate his own power. Thus, The Economist has called him the “Chairman of Everything” (COE). To expect decentralisation and implementation of inclusive institutions from the Chinese Communist Party is like climbing a tree to catch a fish.

It is the nature of the Chinese communist regime to get rid of the person who points out the problem, rather than getting rid of the problem itself. In fact, the nature of the Chinese communist governance is exactly the same as described in Why Nations Fail. When governance, economic and any other type of crisis accumulate over and over, those in power will turn a blind eye and bury their heads in the sand. Finally, we should point to Why Nations Fail’s prophecy: its economic growth being unsustainable, China will fail. Or as The Washington Post editor Jackson Diehl puts it in his article “The Coming Collapse: Authoritarians in China and Russia Face an Endgame”: 
“Revolutions are, of course, unpredictable. Some regimes fall sooner than seemed possible until the event occurs; some linger long after their demise has become inevitable. But the recent history of unfree countries has shown that while breaking points are hard to anticipate, there is a common set of conditions that sets the stage for change”.
When in 2015 China faced a rare case of national stock market crisis, the signs of China’s economic storm roared like a thunder. On February 2016, Joseph Lian pointed out that the Chinese economic miracle already started to decline in 2008 and, would it not stop, in three years their economy would experience negative growth. “If Beijing’s attempts to counter-attack by force result in conflict, its crisis-ridden economy is likely to collapse: and if it doesn't use force to counter attack, the myth of nationalism will also be shattered into pieces”.

As China buries itself, those enjoying the comfort zone should be alert 
As for today, there are still a lot of Hongkongers who believe that Hong Kong’s economy can only rely on China, that “If Hong Kong is fine, China will be fine; if China is fine, Hong Kong will be even better”. This is especially true for the financial sector. Little do they know that behind China’s apparent national prosperity, a nation is dying inside. It is a matter of time before the wind blows out the candle.

At present China still relies on its sovereignty over Hong Kong and continuously makes use of the world’s freest economy. Nevertheless, the consequences of the invasion of red capitalism will not only be a Chinese model of business or the erosion of the values treasured by Hongkongers, but also the ripple effect of the explosion caused by China’s political and economic crisis. Before doomsday arrives for China and continually spreads over the present situation of Hongkongers, even if Hong Kong’s nationalism does not have a common front, it will eventually awake: to save ourselves, we should first cut any ties with China.

Leave China for self-determination. Save Hong Kong. 

Monday, 15 August 2016

Atsuna: De-politicization and Injustice

Atsuna: De-politicization and Injustice
Translated by Karen L., written by Atsuna (written in February 2013)
Original: https://atsunablog.wordpress.com/2013/02/25/%E5%8E%BB%E6%94%BF%E6%B2%BB%E5%8C%96%E8%88%87%E5%8E%BB%E6%AD%A3%E7%BE%A9%E5%8C%96/ 


(A primary 2 student was asked if she knows what "vote" means in a documentary)

One may have noticed the recent presence of “the Sounds of Silence” in Hong Kong community. They insist that “politicisation” is not a positive attribute of any place. In their point of view, politicians are to be divisive and the post-90s citizens are too inexperienced to handle things right. To them, conflicts, regardless of any nature, will only sew discord within the city. Frowned at each sight of aggressive protestors, they seriously believe that the one and only survival way-out left for Hong Kong is “de-politicization”.

These people are not entirely formed by groups of paid Internet ghostwriters employed by the establishment camp. Many of them are made blind as a result of comfortable lives. Without realising that politics is accounted for one after another leap forward for the city, the naïveté in them allows the spread of an unascertainable belief of which Hongkongers’ political apathy contributes to the undivided attention on economics and the subsequent prosperity.

In 1949, a good number of funds and talents entered, and thus favoured Hong Kong due to the fall of China. The cold war after that drew the iron curtain that separated China from the western world, while Hong Kong connecting to both sides managed to create an economic legend with entrepôt dominance. As to the welfare system in Hong Kong, basically, it is established to prevent another wave of Hong Kong 1967 Leftist riots and to placate the widespread anger among the population. Before the deadline of 1997’s Handover, the game plan for the British Hong Kong Government was to add more bargaining chips in the political negotiations with the Chinese Communist Party.1 Suddenly, repudiated the autocracy they used to practice, the government suggested to put parliamentary democracy into execution. Had it not been stymied by the Chinese Communist Party, we would have known at first hand the benefits brought by “politicisation”: ordinary men can vote to protect themselves from dignitaries’ corruption.

Over a long period of time, the governments in charge have hypnotised Hongkongers into believing that their meaning of life is supposed to devote as politically apathetic economic animal. Subconsciously, this misleading move has rationalised the fully negative image of politics. The word “Politicisation”, similar to the slang “Kong gals”, is thought to carry only derogatory connotations. Skipping further exploration to that common idea, many gullible people fall for such casuistry. Condemning CY Leung for his unauthorized building works, to them, is “politicisation”; uploading pictures of mainland Chinese’s wrongdoings in Hong Kong society and criticizing those behaviours, to them, are applications of “politicization”; realizing the so-called integration between Hong Kong and Mainland China to be an annexation, to them, is again “politicization”... By taking a deeper thought to that, one will notice that the people with the notion to “de-politicize” turn out to take an unfathomable liking to “politicisation”. To achieve whatever purpose, an unfailing  explanation to the man-made flux of mislabeling on every opposition is the advantage attached to the surefire moral-high-ground position — one does not have to bother one’s head about making persuasive counter-arguments.

Being well aware of the above advantages, mainland China is probably the most successful representative to deploy omnipresent “de-politicization" — zero freedom to talk about politics within the country. What is more, in this world of “de-politicization", any action carrying the faintest trait of politicisation is to be oppressed by the authority. People requesting the government to implement the constitution is regarded an incitement to subvert state power; people demanding that those infant formula companies make reasonable compensation, it is public nuisance; people making petitions in an attempt to overthrow forced eviction end up in labour camps... The specifically designed search engines adoptable in the country even filter out “Communist Party” because it is too sensitive a word for its people. Such extreme is destined for an opposite extreme. Thanks to that, there’s a whole new world of politicisation born where political trickeries are so common even to kids who are far from reaching mental maturity.

(A primary 2 student said she had no idea what is democracy in a documentary)

A documentary called Please Vote for Me2 talks about an election of class monitor among some primary 2 students in Wuhan, China. It begins with a boy saying his grounds to stand for election. He says, “A class monitor represents power. The class has to stand and sit under the command of the class monitor.” At this young age, this boy has come into contact with “pork barrel” promising his classmates seats in the class association for a vote. Plus, he instigates others to “mobilise the masses” and to sabotage the talent show on the spot so other candidates wouldn’t gain advantages. There are no lengths to which this child will not go to gain power and influence. Adept politicking and aberrant enthusiasm in power, unquestionably, are nothing common to children in ordinary countries.

At the beginning of the documentary, another competitor refuses his police-officer parents’ offer to “help him do something” for more votes. To us, it seems to be an odd enough offer. And this boy does appear to have a backbone like ramrod at that time and he says, “I don’t want to control them. Let them think. They can vote for whoever they want.” But then, he suffers from a competitor’s politicking and decides to take his parents’ suggestion. Free “guanxi” trip on the railway for the whole class and distributing pre-mid-Autumn-festival presents in front of everyone before the vote bribe his way to a win.

In the end of it, interestingly, the teacher concludes with this: Be it victory or loss, every one of you has learned a "precious" lesson...  The teacher also mentions that this lesson is going to play a huge role in their growth path. The camera captured a fairly dramatic final scene: the losing candidates are required to shake hands with the winning candidate and to say a few words of blessing to him; the class is filled with claps; on the wall of that very classroom, there hangs a Chinese banner that reads "embrace integrity and bravery; be diligent and a constant thinker". I assume that those kids truly benefited a great deal. After all, now that the kids know mere politicking is far from being effective, the prudential policy to cope with villains is to be one of them — suppressing the masses — and to confuse people by giving them advantages at certain times. An unpleasant surprise is that to them, the foul measures to meet purposes can still be divided into "better" and "worse".

An almost universally accepted opinion of politics is that it is a disgust, which politicians brazenly enjoy vested interests through demagogueries. Precisely because of it, the need to eliminate the possibility of black-box operations shall not be ignored. Those sayings which advocate creating "a better world" by "de-politicization" are ridiculous lies indeed.

Yim Man-wa, an activist, was charged with an assault on a police officer (Translator’s note: On 2012’s Hong Kong 1 July demonstration, the protestors had waited for hours before they can start. Some participants demanded the police to retract the blockages at Causeway Road so as to make way for protestors. Yim hunkered and crossed the cordon line. Some police officers were there carrying her away and she bet one of them.) and had to serve her sentence in a rehabilitation centre.

Originally it was a perfectly normal school event to visit these centres as it serves as an alert so that the students are aware of the consequences if they go astray. But I wonder that if defending for a good cause continued to be looked down, these centres would eventually deteriorate into some coward factories from where the visitors would get the idea to not come forward against injustice.

The authority’s repression of dissent in modern Hong Kong has aggravated without scruple, and yet commoners should carry on the mission impossible to avoid being too “politicised”? Isn’t it an obvious means to force people to return to the “motherland”?

In the name of “de-politicization” again and again, the authority lowers the value of justice. A society where early education is about to follow the opposite direction of justice and to learn by heart all those dark unspoken rules is never a society with justice. Just as communism to mainland China, justice may seem to be theoretically acceptable, but underneath, if you talk about the true application of it, the people there will laugh their hands off. So, back to “de-politicisation”, what is it? The most powerful trick of the authority.



1. Chris Patten, a former governor of Hong Kong, suggested the 1994 Hong Kong electoral reform in an attempt to make it a more direct-election-like form. The plan is that 9 functional constituencies would be added to the Legislative Council and the employees in those industries would be entitled to vote. Beijing banned the suggestion and the primary unit of the current functional constituencies is a company. In other words, only a few employers have the right to vote in this aspect.

2. The Full movie of Please Vote for me with English subtitles is available in Youtube:
     1/5: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5pZsCg-1fQ8
     2/5: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qVqZz4CIDys
     3/5: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9ku6SVaRKx4
     4/5: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kTSM71a6_M8
     5/5: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=giJNbTXYpE0

Tuesday, 9 August 2016

[Undergrad/HKUSU] Meet the Poet Who Breaks through the Crevasse: Nicholas Wong

Meet the Poet Who Breaks through the Crevasse: Nicholas Wong
Written by Rainbow Wong (Undergrad, HKUSU, August 2016)
Nicholas Wong (photo by Donald Yiu)


Born and raised in Hong Kong, “Asia’s World City” dubbed by the local tourism board, the Lambda Literary Award winner, Nicholas Wong Yu-bon, feels that there are certain “off-ness” in his identities. He writes poems in English, his second language, and is gay in a city that does not even have anti-discrimination laws that include sexual orientation. Nevertheless, this is no obstacle to his creativity—if anything, it has opened up a world of myriad possibilities for him.

The purple book cover of Crevasse features a hole full of cross-shaped bacteria revealed by a paper crack. Inspired by a poem about gloryholes and crucifixions, he designed it with an artist from Los Angeles, as he told Time Out Hong Kong earlier. “The title Crevasse suggests a crack that opens up an originally intact surface to reveal what possibly exists beneath it,” Wong explained the name of his latest poetry collection, which earned him the US-based awards, also known as the “Lammys”, in the gay poetry category. Now in their 28th year, the awards recognize and celebrate L.G.B.T. books from a variety of genres published in the U.S. each year.  The award ceremony this year was held in early June at New York University. 

The hidden gem of English poetry

In brutal honesty, the local poetry scene has not been remarkably exuberant and it seemingly applies even more so for poetry written in the English language, which might be more challenging to read for many locals. But English poetry greatly enchants Wong: He likes the reading and writing of the genre, and is drawn to “the in-between-ness, the ambiguity, the clarity that is always defined by opacity”, as he said. As an English major at HKU, he grew used to writing many texts for each course and enjoyed doing it. But his interest in writing poetry really sparked off in his third year, when he was enrolled in a whole-year creative writing course taught by Shirley Lim, which explored the craft of poetry and short stories. It was not without difficulty, though. As he said, “The challenges, back then, were the literary vacuum, by which I meant I hadn't had the chance to read a lot of poetry—classical and contemporary. I believe that reading the right poems is the key to writing drafts that are worth keeping.  This said, the course let me know I was, to say the least, interested in creative writing, or creating per se.”

He then went on to complete a master’s degree in comparative literature at HKU. His fondest memories are the simplest ones. “I liked simply sitting in a classroom and listening to professor talk about interesting ideas that ultimately changed one's perspective in seeing things. They're sharing their lifetime wisdom and research with you in two hours. It's actually a good deal, from the economic point of view,” he said.

Against all odds

Wong also took the City University’s MFA in Creative Writing in 2010, an Asian-themed, low-residency program of which many local English writers were alumni. Unfortunately, the program was axed in the Summer of 2015 amid protests from current students, graduates and authors worldwide. Wong was among those who signed the letter against the university's decision. "That MFA program was different from any of the regular ones that run courses by semester. Therefore, it had to be funded by a different financial model. However, the management wasn't very flexible in creating a new funding model to keep the program. Their reluctance could be a shortsightedness, or a complicated administrative decision. It's ironic to close the program when the university advocated a truly global body of studentship. I have never been in a program more global than MFA," he said.

“Literature grows in Hong Kong. There are more and more quality readers and daring writers, both for the Chinese and English literary scenes. But it's almost true to say literature is marginalized because the people making important policies are not very good readers or writers themselves.” But despite all the challenges, “The more marginalized an artist, the more creative energy he has,”as Wong quoted singer-songwriter Anthony Wong Yiu-ming.

Poring over his poems, many may sense a dash of social sensitivity between the lines. Writers should make use of their discomfort as inspiration, Wong believes. "To me, politics is related to one's existence and positioning in a community," he said. "I do believe that good writings should transgress and subvert."

'Just another relationship'

Avid film watchers would be familiar with the delicate yet turbulent romance of two young souls in Wong Kar-wai's Happy Together (1997). It is something quite different from other local films of its time because of the straightforward depiction of a gay romance. Wong likes the film a lot, as he explained, “It doesn't bother explaining the homosexuality of the two protagonists. It's just another relationship. We need more films and TV dramas like this to counter the misrepresentation of queerness in Hong Kong or Asian popular culture.”

In his other interviews, he has been emphasizing that "gay poetry" is there only for the ease of categorization by the press, bookstores and the like. After all, labelling is perhaps dispensable, if the focus is on a poet's work and not his identity.

There are quite a few queer poets whom Wong admires, from across the world, including Cyril Wong (Singapore), Jee Leong-koh (Singapore), C. Dale Young (America), Timothy Liu (America), Danez Smith (America), Ocean Vuong (America), D. A. Powell (America) and Kazim Ali (America).

The collection

When asked about Crevasse, Wong said, “There are poems that are deeply personal, whereas there are some pieces that depart from the personal and try to explore the personal with the social. The worst assumption of reading poetry or any literature is that everything on the page is autobiographical.  This reading is very reductive. In fact, can we ever tell if incidents in the poem have happened? Why bother? Poetry should start with what is known and push itself towards exploring the unknown."

Although Wong does not have a favorite poem in the collection and interestingly, avoids reading the entire collection, there is a poem which holds a special place in his heart. “There is a poem called ‘Side Effects of Leukaemia’, and it's written for a dear friend who passed. He's been supportive of my dream,” he said.

We have hand-picked two poems from Crevasse with which many might resonate according to life in Hong Kong. "Postcolonial Zoology" explores the intricacies of race and colonization, while "Neighbor" looks into the intersections between one's private and public life.

Postcolonial Zoology
1997, Hong Kong

It is not the pedigreed corgis they left
at the handover, but the effigy of the Queen
on toothed stamps being self-important

in dusted albums. We bolted to banks to trade
for new coins. We went to the West, away
from communist coxswains, but were whittled

to sculptures called “second-tier citizens,”
second to terriers. Our being could start
a chapter in zoology: we are inedible

bilingual centaurs spreading swine flu
at the turn of the century, we are comrades
of a blue whale found ashore due to sonic

confusion, caribous on a cruise to Malibu.
Even what we remembered migrated to corners
invisible in brain scans. In Mandarin Oriental,

India, a TV host devoured British scones
and circumscribed cucumber sandwiches
on his sun porch that looked over to rice fields.

A butler next to him. He called the experience
authentic. So were the bees buzzing in air,
sick of their queen too lazy to move.

Words from the poet:
"I once watched a travel show on Discovery Channel late at night, and was bothered by how the white male host enjoyed being served by colored resort staff. Well, from an economic point of view, there seemed to be nothing wrong there. He paid for the service. He got it. Yet, the semiotics of the scenes is deeply troubling."

Neighbor

Every death is a local event every local

avoids. The way we zigzag our way
by the gate to avoid this spot the skull

has crushed then opened like a generous

guava.  e way we think the chalked
outline of the victim, a man, hardly

synopsizes the outlined body we carry

thus know of. The way a tent is zipped
to eclipse his plunge from public talks

because he has taken another he too personally,

privately—the myth of love bisects these he’s,
who wet their love for myths with well-meant selves.

Tomorrow, the street will reek of bleach,

will gray as if intolerant of red, and stories
of the spot be untold by bold tire tracks.

A wreath by the curb

tilts, an umbrella, unclaimed, waits
for better weather to disclose its ribs.

Words from the poet:
"People jumped from buildings to kill themselves in Hong Kong. There's a certain haunting quality in walking on the road, where the night before, someone's head might have been crushed like 'an open guava'. I don't mean haunting in the spectral sense, but how tragedies and deaths can be quickly 'sanitized' for a regular, normal life to resume its pace."

[5 Aug 2016 Rally] Edward Tang: There is the time to defy, and there is the time to rally.

Edward Tang's Speech on Hong Kong National Party - “Defend for Democracy, Hong Kong Independence” Rally
Transcribed by Nick, Translated by Timothy and Judy, spoken by Edward Tang
[ The English translation is released under Creative Commons, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 ]
(Source: Undergrad, HKUSU Instant News)

Because I’m more of a writer than a speaker, so I am going to refer to my script.

Firstly, I would like to thank Hong Kong National Party for inviting me to speak today.

Today is a historical day, not because it’s another “darkest day for democracy in Hong Kong”, but because we have reached new heights. Just look at the words behind me: “Hong Kong Independence”. Today, localism and independentism have finally become political platforms, and even reasons for the election commission to bar candidates.

As mentioned earlier on Facebook, Ma Man-fai, the true father of Hong Kong independence, foresaw the future of Hong Kong almost 70 years ago. He saw a trend of independentism and self-determinism around the globe, so he became active in the political sphere, using all he had to promote Hong Kong independence. But everybody back then thought he was crazy. Gaining independence under British Rule? You wish. So, people later involved in the democratic movements over the years have long forgotten this person of significance.

But nowadays, we all know that Hong Kong independence is no longer a pipe dream, because 19 years since the handover, after tens of years of democratic movements, there has never been a bigger defeat than today! There has never been a worse state for the geographical constituency since the first election in 1991. Pan-democrats, whom we once trusted, couldn’t do anything about it (the disqualification of localist candidates), and would instead tell you “I’ll start righting this wrong after I win.” Some may even ridicule localists/independentists and tell you to “move over”. (referring to the incident where Pan-democrats held an emergency demonstration to protest against the disqualification of HK National Party’s Chan Ho-Tin. During the demonstration, one of the participants, Erica Yuen, told Chan to move over because he was blocking their path) How can we stand this any longer? Pan-democrats tell you they are here to fight for democracy, yet after three whole decades, we are going backwards. Are you telling me that the political screening we have today is their biggest contribution to the fight for democracy?

This time, the Electoral Affairs Commission became the SAR or even Chinese Communist Party’s minion, censoring localist candidates by their platforms, actions, words or even their thoughts, using accusations of “ulterior” motives to deprive them of their political rights for life. As the old saying goes: “Whatever the superior loves, his subordinates will be found to love exceedingly.” When the Communist Party wants to deprive its citizens of their rights, they would put on a show and pretend to put their political prisoners “to trial” - one was just sentenced to seven years in jail. Hong Kong however has taken this a step forward: They are able to sentence you to political death, barring you from running in elections ever again just because they believe you are politically “guilty”.

When it has come to this, what is left to be said? We Hongkongers should have dropped all fantasies about universal suffrage when the Communist Party announced its decision on 31/8. However, people continue to deceive themselves, hoping that the Communist Party would someday change their minds and at least give Hong Kong “Birdcage Democracy” (Democracy within Beijing’s boundaries), so that Hongkongers can eat, sleep, and live another day in peace. Therefore, even with events such as the 79-day Umbrella Revolution occupation, soon afterwards, people acted as if nothing has happened.

But localists never forgot. Never.

Lam Wing-kee, the Causeway Bay bookseller (who was kidnapped and kidnapped out of Hong Kong via smuggler boats by Communist Party officials), told Singaporean press: “Hong Kong Independence is realistic and feasible.” Although his political views may not align with those of localists or independentists, how did he reach this conclusion? Simple: The human race longs for freedom, and people who have been held captive, who have once lost their freedom, would recognize just how precious freedom is. Living in Hong Kong today, we face the potential loss of our freedom to assemble, our freedom to associate and even our freedom of speech. Basic Law has become nothing but scrap paper, and we never know when we would be captured and smuggled out of Hong Kong against our will. Our personal security is at risk. How is this any different from being in jail?

The Communist Party is using all tricks up its sleeve to bash localists, not just because they fear political separatism, but more importantly, Hong Kong independence is feasible. And because it is realistic, our actions are monitored even more rigorously than before. The government has been using the police and the law to intimidate us, trying to discourage and lead us astray from the path to freedom, but we are not afraid. Our beliefs are firm. We are ready to sacrifice for our beliefs and for Hong Kong, working towards what we have today.

Still, we currently do not have enough strength to start a revolution. Polls have reported a 15% to 17% support for Hong Kong independence, which is not a small number, but it must be understood that these people may not support radical means for the fight all at once. If we look at Taiwan’s Independence movement, they are 30 years ahead of us, whereas our stage has only been set today. We need some patience to do the following:

Firstly, education. By explaining and promoting independence concepts, we need to let the general public understand the importance of independence, and encourage them to care more for Hong Kong’s future. Secondly, set an example. When people question the benefits and feasibility of Hong Kong Independence, we must at least know how to respond. Most importantly, we must build strength in areas other than social activism. Public opinion cannot be moved in a flash.

The Occupy Central rally, held here two years ago, used more than a year to get enough people on board with the idea of street occupation. To push for the mammoth undertaking of independence, we need more time, manpower and resources. These we must accumulate bit by bit. Whether we run for elections, form associations, recruit talent, or even appear on media and battle the war of public opinion, we must fight for publicity; we must prepare ourselves for when the tides do turn.

This rally today might be advertised as “PRVP” (Peaceful, Rational, Violence-free, Profanity-free)1, no different from the ones held by left-wing activists. But here I’ll make it very clear: Their flavour of “activism” has never had a goal, a direction, or a plan. They make it look like it’s activism for the masses, activism that targets the regime, but in reality, they have always been elitists, refusing to trust the masses. Therefore, nothing happens after their demonstrations, and another day is gone.

We’re not like them; we have clear goals and complete plans. We are not doing this for applause, for the cameras or simply for venting. We are doing this to survive under Communist Party oppression, and to win this long battle. In the end, we will seize our sovereignty from the hands of the Chinese Communist Party!

At last, keep this in mind: There is the time to defy, and there is the time to rally. Thank you.


1. Hong Kong Columns (Translated) translate 和理非非 as PRNN - peaceful, rational, non-violent, non-swearing.

因為我本身呢就寫慣嘢,就唔係好識講嘢噉樣,所以就要睇稿啦。
噉首先第一件事,要多謝咗民族黨今日邀請我嚟呢到講返兩句噉樣。
今日,係非常之重要嘅日子,並唔係因為所謂香港民主最黑暗嘅一天,而係因為香港行到呢一步。你睇吓我身後呢四隻字:「香港獨立」。本土主義、獨立思潮到到今日,終於正正式式成為政治綱領,甚至成為選委員篩選立法會候選人嘅一個理由。
早前喺面書都講過,距離今日差唔多七十年前嘅港獨之父馬文輝,對於香港嘅前途,一早就有先見之明。佢睇到當時世界各地存在好多嘅獨立或者自決嘅思潮,於是就下定決心,積極噉樣參與政治,出錢出力去宣傳佢嘅港獨思想。但係當其時幾乎所有香港人都係當佢痴線嘅。喺英國治下搞港獨?你痴心妄想啦。結果香港經營咗咁多年嘅民主運動,幾乎忘記咗呢個曾經喺香港咁重要嘅人物存在。
但係到咗今時今日,大家都知道,港獨唔再係一個妄想,因為香港主權移交咗十九年,爭取民主運動行咗幾十年,從來都冇試過今日咁大嘅挫敗!行返去一九九一年第一次有立法局選舉之後,直選議席從來未試過咁惡劣嘅地步。我哋曾經相信過嘅泛民對呢件事不單止一啲嘢都做唔到,仲會同你講:「我選贏咗先同你攞返個公道啦。」有啲甚至會話俾你聽,對於港獨或者本土派冷嘲熱諷:「唔該借借!」噉試問我哋仲可以忍落去咩?泛民主派口口聲聲話俾你聽爭民主,爭咗三十幾年,家陣逆水行舟,難道你話俾我聽,今時今日嘅篩選就係佢哋爭民主最大嘅貢獻?
選委會今次充當特區政府甚至係中共嘅鷹犬爪牙,用政見、用言行,甚至係思想,審查我哋本土派嘅候選人,用無數嘅誅心之論剝奪本土派嘅政治權利終身。正所謂「上有好者,下必甚焉」,中共要剝奪公民嘅政治權利,至少都要做吓樣,去審判政治犯——啱啱就判咗個七年幾啦。但係香港今日唔再需要,一句莫須有,就可以判晒你哋所有人嘅政治死刑,終身都唔可以再參選。
去到呢一步大家仲有啲咩好講啊?早喺中共頒佈八三一決定嘅一日,我哋香港人就唔應該對所謂嘅真普選心存幻想。但係香港人仍然每日喺到呃緊自己,希望中共回心轉意,俾個鳥籠民主香港囉。大家食餐安樂茶飯,平平安安又一日咯。所以就算遮打革命七十九日嘅大型佔領,好快大家好似就冇咗件事嘞。

但係本土派從來都冇忘記過呢啲事情;從來都冇。

記得銅鑼灣書店嘅林榮基先生喺接受新加坡傳媒訪問嘅時候主動對記者講:「香港獨立係切實可行嘅。」雖然林先生嘅政見未必同本土獨派相似,但係點解佢會得出呢個結論呢?原因好簡單:人從來都係嚮往自由、自主,尤其係經歷被囚禁、失去自由嘅人,更加知道自由嘅可貴。當下嘅香港,我哋面臨住嘅係集會自由、結社自由,連言論自由都要禁制,《基本法》就係廢紙,我哋唔知幾時俾人哋捉去洗頭艇,人身安全都係問題。喺中共治下,人人自危。噉我哋同坐監其實有幾大分別呢?

中共之所以要千方百計打擊本土派,固然係因為政治上面嘅恐懼分離主義,但係更加重要嘅係,香港獨立,切實可行。而亦都係因為切實可行,我哋一舉一動更加受到控制、監視。政府用警察、用法律去威嚇我哋,試圖令我哋爭取自由嘅路越行越遠。但係我哋唔驚,我哋信念堅定,敢於為香港、為理想獻身,不斷噉努力,行到今時今日呢一步。

雖然係噉,我哋暫時都仲未累積到足夠嘅力量去發起革命。要知道依家坊間唔同嘅民調數字話俾我哋聽,支持香港獨立嘅人有百分之十五到十七,為數都唔少,但係要知道呢班人未必一下子就支持勇武抗爭,用激烈嘅反抗去爭取獨立。我哋睇返台灣嘅建國運動,行咗三十幾年,但係香港今日先至有個大會、有個大台,啱啱起步。我哋係需要啲耐性去做以下嘅事。

首先,係要教育群眾,慢慢透過講解、宣傳,感染佢哋,認識香港獨立嘅重要性,更加關心香港嘅命運同埋前途。同時我哋自己要做一個好嘅榜樣,喺人哋問到、質疑到香港獨立係咪咁好啊、係咪不可行嘅時候,我哋至少要識得點樣去回應。而更加重要嘅係,除咗喺社運之外,我哋係要建立實力;要知道民氣並唔係一時三刻可以累積得到。

喺兩年前同樣喺呢到嘅和平佔中集會,其實都要花咗成年幾嘅時間先至累積到街頭佔領嘅概念嘅。我哋要全面實現獨立,係更加複雜嘅工程,需要更加多嘅時間、人力同埋物力去做。而呢啲資源,我哋係要不斷噉去累積。無論係參選議會、籌組組識、吸納人材,甚至係傳媒報道、打輿論戰,我哋要喺各個範疇爭取我哋嘅發言權,儲到足夠嘅力量,喺足夠嘅變故之前,時刻做好準備。

所以今日嘅集會大家話係和理非啦,同左翼社運人士好似冇分別噉樣。但係喺到我清楚話俾你聽,佢哋嘅社運,從來都係冇目標、冇方向、冇好好噉計劃去實現。講就話針對政權、群眾運動,但係做其實就菁英心態,從來都唔信任群眾,所以大家每次都做完就算,返屋企瞓覺。

但係我哋唔同。我哋嘅目標明確,計劃周詳,為嘅並唔係少少掌聲,唔係鏡頭,唔係一時嘅宣洩,而係點樣喺中共壓迫底下生存,長期作戰,打贏呢場仗。我哋最後要喺中共手上面奪取返我哋嘅主權!

最後,要記住就係:勇武有時,集氣有時。多謝各位。