Monday, 21 March 2016

Statement of the Generation: 11 Our 2047

Statement of the Generation: Our 2047
Translated by Chen-t'ang 鎮棠, written by The Undergrad session 2015, HKUSU

[DIRECTORY: AT THE END]

In his election platform, Edward Leung (from Hong Kong Indigenous) proposed to commence the 2nd round of negotiations and use of referenda to determine Hong Kong’s post-2047 future. On the other hand, in a New York Times interview, Joshua Wong said he will form a new party and join the LegCo election in September 2016. He will use the next 10 years to foster support for a referendum on Hong Kong’s future and self-determination.

The responsibility for bringing the issues of the second negotiation for Hong Kong’s future to the attention of all Hongkongers will belong to this generation. 

In retrospect, we were not born during the 1st negotiation for Hong Kong’s future, so we can only look at the silhouette of history to identify the roots of Hong Kong’s plight. In 1971, PRC replaced ROC to represent China, and in 1972, Hong Kong was removed from the UN's list of colonial territories. Since then Hongkongers, as colonial subjects, have lost the right to exercise self-determination granted by the UN.

In his memoir, Chung Sze-yuen, the LegCo and ExCo member, wrote that in 1984, Lydia Dunn, Lee Quo-wei and him met Deng Xiaoping. Deng immediately said the negotiation for the future of Hong Kong will only be settled by China and the UK. As for the so-called “three-legged stool”, it did not have three legs only two. Since then, Hongkongers were deprived the right to determine their own fate. 

In 1984, Zhao Ziyang and Margaret Thatcher signed the Sino-British Joint Declaration, which instituted the transfer of sovereignty of Hong Kong to China after 30 June 1997. Hong Kong commenced 14 years of waiting.

We once chose to believe China yet she has never kept good faith. Meeting Point, which later became Democratic Party, promoted Democratic Reunification widely. Meeting Point put the wager on China, anticipating she would reform, and Hong Kong would then have democracy. The Tiananmen Massacre did not falter the patriotic hearts of Meeting Point, nor the hope for Democratic Reunification.

History did not follow their wishes.  The current PRC regime is much more centralised and conservative than that of the 1980s. Hongkongers have waited since 2007/08 to 2012 to 2017 for everyone to wake up from the dream of democracy. Meeting Point became the pan-democrats now, occupying the council with slow reforms. 

For example, Emily Lau remains a Legislative Councillor since 1991. The pan-democrats control the resources and voice of the opposition and want to lead the next negotiations for the future, so as to ensure their parties political survival and perpetuate influence. Yet this will severely retard our progress. The pan-democrats do not understand the current China, and still harbour liberal fantasies for the eventual democratisation of authoritarian China. The belief in China’s inevitable march towards democracy is their blind spot. This is the cause of their failure to respond to the surge in localist thought and suffer a dearth of imagination about the resistance through social movements. They uphold the banner of absolute pacifism. When someone tries to break the box with physical resistance, they condemn these protesters and sever ties with them, leaving us, the “eggs” (the eggs/wall simile by Haruki Murakami), out there. Before the election, they will ask us to consider the bigger picture. We cannot repress the sense of helplessness at the shortsightedness of these people who have led the democratic movement for the past thirty years. They have eyes only for ballots but have no mind for the fresh thinking for Hong Kong’s future. The pan-democrats do not belong to this era which has no hope for democratic reunification. 

In 2014, we no longer needed to read literature or watch documentaries because we WERE there. We occupied the road. We were beaten by batons so hard that we bled and sore. The Umbrella Revolution is the greatest roar from this generation. We were naive, because we thought our tear and sweat might bear some fruits in Admiralty or Mong Kok, but this turned out to be futile. The failure of the umbrella revolution lies not only in the revolution itself, but also the Democratic Reunification theory We know that the era of democratic movements has passed, for it will be a tumultuous time of anti-authoritarianism. In early 2016, a policeman violated the Police General Order and shot towards the sky. The protesters hurled bricks as a way to resist. It might be a shock to witness, but it might be the prelude of a new model for resistance. 

All this is for we refuse to be slaves. 

The promise of 50-years of no change to Hong Kong’s way of life as enshrined in the Sino-British Joint Declaration will expire  in 2047. The future of Hong Kong again becomes unknown yet society barely talks about it -  whether it be independence, maintain the status quo or become just another city in China. 2047 seems to belong to the distant future but people were already discussing 1997 in the late 1970s. Looking at the pace of “mainlandisation”, we need to prepare for the preparation of the 2nd negotiation for Hong Kong’s future. We have the following demands:
  1. Hong Kong becomes an independent sovereign state recognised by the UN;
  2. Establishment of a democratic government;
  3. Design of the Constitution of Hong Kong by the entire community.
The HKSARG has become the puppet of the Communist Party. The governance of HKSARG sides with the CCP, undercuts the autonomy, and can be seen in cases like Northeast New Territories development, overspending limitlessly on the Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong Express Rail Link (XRL), flattering CCP by developing Qianhai, or turning Hong Kong’s Policy Address into China’s Belt-and-Road Report. Even Hong Kong might not be strong enough in terms of “hardwares”, or China’s economy will still be strong, but our focus is not on CAN Hong Kong be independent, but rather, SHOULD Hong Kong be independent. We want to protect Cantonese, traditional characters, colonial period post boxes, the solemn institution of an independent judiciary, the unique culture and society in Hong Kong, and a democratic government for which the interests of Hong Kong is the first and foremost priority. These aspirations are not borne out of hatred, but comes from every heart and mind desirous of freedom. The struggle for independence will certainly not happen in the span of a day; we are only its beginning. There are plenty of “Greater China” supporters  who insist “it is hard for Hong Kong to have democracy if China does not have it”. But is democratising China easier than an independent Hong Kong? Absolutely not.

Though the Basic Law is the cornerstone of the “one country, two systems”, it never enjoyed the popular mandate of the Hongkonger people. Furthermore, the power of its interpretation lies in the hands of the Chinese Communists meaning that the Communists were free to make such interpretations based on their political whims. Even if we wished to amend the Basic Law we must first obtain the consent of two-thirds of the Hong Kong Legislative Council and the Hong Kong NPC Delegates, then submit a bill to the Politburo and the final say lies in the National People's Congress.

Even though constitutionally speaking it is not impossible for such thresholds to be crossed, unless the proposed amendments have the approval of the Communist Party, there is no hope of them going through. As the recent illegitimate, cross-border abduction of Lee Po demonstrates, when the Basic Law is breached, we Hongkongers have no means of enforcing the Law. The so-called One Country, Two Systems supposedly protected by the Basic Law is in reality very fragile. Before the aggressive red tide, our supposed defences are practically non-existent. Where something can be shattered, something can be established. The next step after invalidating the Basic Law is to draft a constitutional of Hong Kong. Due to the present political constraints, popular demand for a popularly enacted constitution cannot be enacted. However, it will be the result of the participation of the entire population of Hong Kong, enjoying concrete support as it represents our hopes and determination for independence, firmly establishing the foundation for Hong Kong’s future constitutional framework. 

We know that the path to independence is a distant one and will not be a result of just one generation’s effort. We must establish footholds in every arena of society: the streets, the Legco, the commercial sector, the unions, the media, the cultural sector; not one can be missed. Everything from the LegCo seats to local literature is the capital for achieving independence. Last year in September, Catalonia was able to obtain in parliament commencement of secession procedures after three hundred years of struggle. Within 18 months they realised independence. We as spectators are green with envy but must bear in mind the sacrifices of the Catalonians. From the late 1930s to mid-1970s, Catalonia endured severe repression under the dictator Franco. Local culture was forbidden, spread only through the underground which only added to the darkness that overhangs Catalonia. Yet, this only added to the swiftness of the independence efforts afterwards through the strong promotion of the Catalan language and establishing the ethnic pride of the Catalonian people. Hong Kong’s Cantonese culture swept across Asia in the 1980s proving that Hong Kong may be small but has the ability for a febrile cultural infrastructure. Such capital not only is a resource to console the spirit but also mandatory material to enlighten indifferent souls. 

The land resources of Hong Kong will once again encounter issues of ownership and a post-2047 credit crisis thus justifying the urgent need to commence the second round of negotiations. Before these negotiations begin, we must acquire popular support. Communist attempts to win over the youth have failed. Independent thinking once lost remains lost. Localism has grown steadily under the irrational oppression of the Chinese Communist Party. Coupled with the fact that our connection to China is far from that of our parents, we quote from Taiwan academic (who is of Hong Kong origin) John Lim Chuan-tiong: “the next generation of Hongkongers will be the natural independents, bearing by birth rich identification with the Hongkonger identity. This generation will oppose local communists’ collusion with the Chinese Communists and support Hong Kong’s right to independence. Unlike us, they will not have to fumble to find their identification nor will they be confused by the same conflict we felt about dual identities. They will inject energy into the independence movement and become our staunch ally.” 

Cringing is never an option for us.

If your civilization wants us to cringe, I'll show you the pride of savages till the end.
(Warriors of the Rainbow: Seediq Bale trailer)


Statement of the Generation

Friday, 18 March 2016

When HK Education Becomes Banality of Evil

When HK Education Becomes Banality of Evil
Translated by Chen-t'ang 鎮棠, written by May Lau (劉倩) @ Jumbo 48.4, HKBU
Original: http://issuu.com/_hkbusueb/docs/jumbo48.4/1 
[Translator's note: not being sexist, man/men here refers to human being in general.]

What Makes Man?
The definition of education varies in different schools, and I agree what John Dewey, an American educator, proposed - education is needed to train the people to have independent thinking and sensibility, so as to reform the society and build democracy in people's mind, and this, is individual subjectivity. Education is treated as a basic human right in a civil society. Convention on the Rights of the Child Article 28 said "States Parties recognize the right of the child to education, and with a view to achieving this right progressively and on the basis of equal opportunity".

The Book of Rites said, "Generally speaking, that which makes man man is the meaning of sense of propriety and justice." Though I share Mencius' view of "Men at their birth are naturally good", sense of propriety, justice, honesty and honour need a long time to be motivated (except those emotionally detached). The fundamentals of teaching is to make a man a man, or in Mandarin chengren, which means to be a conscientious man. The teaching must be started when they are young. People now send their children to receive education in schools. Such education means teachers, who have received professional training, will deliver values to children. School and teachers play important roles in the children's development.

The Inferiority of Hong Kong's Education: Banality of Evil
The most ridiculous thing about Hong Kong's education is nothing wakes up the individual subjectivity of the students. Rome is not built in a day, and the failure of Hong Kong's educational system has accumulated for a long time, causing a fundemental institutional problem. The education system is ossified, schools and parents are overemphasizing exams and results without much care about sense of benevolence, justice or propriety. Students have no choice but become the sacrifices of such distorted education system.
The education system in Hong Kong makes me think of banality of evil - that means no thinking, not thinking of people nor the society. Evilness is banal, and everyone might fall into this trap. Some people are willing to give up their own free will to assimilate themselves into the system and follow its arrangement, and would not speak a word for the hidden immorality. Such people would use all sorts of excuses to rationalize their moral faults. These people are but horrible, because they look the same as normal people do, but when they commit crimes, the consequences are unimaginable. The most evil of human being is not to think and to blindly follow.

The concept of "banality of evil" was mentioned by Hannah Arendt, an American philosophist, in 1963 in her book Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil. She illustrated that these "criminals" are not unpardonably wicked, and sometimes even quite conscientious (like helping old ladies on zebra crossings), but they commit crimes when they do not think and feel responsible. When Adolf Eichmann, the Nazi killer, faced with the charge against humanity, he said he was just a law-abiding person and all he did was to execute his duties. Eichmann said his role in the Final Solution (Endlösung) was just incidental, and any other people under his situation would execute tasks delegated by Hitler.

When Education Becomes Banality of Evil
System is a double-edge sword. Whether it is well used depends on the people inside a system. The biggest problem of Hong Kong's educational system is "quantifying everything" by looking at numbers in exams and assessments. Policy makers, executers and participants do not think. Secretary for Education Eddie Ng, who said he reads 30 books a month, quantifies his reading habit into number of books read; schools, who worry parents choosing other schools, would quantify the school achievement by how many score achievers in HKDSE. The education in Hong Kong has entered an era when nothing else but quantification is important.

First, talk about territory-wide assessment (TSA). TSA initially intends to evaluate the school's education policy, provide data for the school and teachers to improve its teaching, and let the Education Bureau evaluate the schools' qualities. Many schools worry that they will be eliminated or culled, so this burden is transferred to the shoulders of students. I do not know the reason behind - must the results of students reflect the teaching quality of a school or a teacher? Does good results in students reflect good teaching? Does good teaching (or not) depend on the good results? Since primary schools, students are carrying such burden to achieve the goals set by teachers and schools, and completing exercise books one by one as if they were robots. Eventually, students and parents can no longer take it, and call for complete eradication of TSA.

Then, the public exams. In the past there were HKALE and HKCEE, and now there is HKDSE. Studying is for exams. How many things can students remember and use it for their whole lives, instead of returning to their teachers once they are outside the exam halls? With such ideology in mind, schools become "input-output" factories. Students are input with formula - "studying is for scoring marks, or you cannot get in universities". Students live under such distorted system, and some high achievers cannot even take care of themselves, not to mention "lofty ideals".

Blind Obedience - When Education Becomes the Tool for Training Skills
The education in Hong Kong does not need nor allow us to think or to ask but to absorb knowledge and become puppets. Education becomes a tool to train skills and ensure capitalism to run on. Students are raw materials, and eventually become parts which cannot function on themselves, as they need to work with other parts - they can never become an independent individual. Schools are places producing parts in a closed circuit. As Michel Foucault said, "In every society, the body was in the grip of very strict powers, which imposed on it constraints, prohibitions or obligations." (Discipline and Punish, p136, 1977 Vintage Books) In schools, students are domesticated by authority.

Under the education system in Hong Kong, students can barely think, or if they wish, they do not know how to think outside the box. Most of the time they think inside the box of Examination and Assessment Authority (HKEAA). When they recite model answer from famous tutors, speculate markers' thoughts when answering "open-ended questions", they can get high marks. The banality of evil in Hong Kong's education is not because of students' ignorance, but rather, lack of thinking ability or willingness to think, because in schools, when you follow the authority, you get awards. And so, the younger generation becomes willing to assimilate their personal will into the system, and neglect the injustice of the system, thus growing the seeds of banality of evil.

What HK Teachers Teach Is to Compromise - System Is Bigger than Justice

I think what Hong Kong teachers teach is to compromise. Why I would conclude so? I watched an episode of Below The Lion Rock 2015, a RTHK TV programme. The female leading role, Yip Hiu-yuet, stood out for the classmate bullied by the bully, but was avenged by the bully. The teacher, without understanding the complete story, punished and insulted Yip physically. The bully and her father even said they will charge Yip. The teacher worried that Yip, who will be troubled by the lawsuit, will affect the school reputation, so the teacher demanded Yip to apologise to the bully and her father. The teacher did not teach students to stand out for injustice, but rather wanted Yip to play this down and compromise. Such "roll-with-the-punches" attitude would distort justice and treat this as normal -- that is the abnormal point. Students will treat teachers as authoritative yardsticks and social norms are delivered through and confirmed by teachers. The teacher has shown the ordinary education culture in Hong Kong - students should not resist but succumb to the fact.

There are many real life examples. In the 2013 Kei Chun Primary School tragedy (where a 10-year-old girl fell from 5th floor but teachers failed to respond promptly and causing her death), a seemingly good teacher did such hysteric thing (calling St Johns, 6.9 km away instead of dialling 999 and asking for an ambulance from Margaret Hospital, which is 1.5 km away). The school and teachers succumbed to "the protection of school reputation". During the death inquiry, the teachers even said "all were following established procedures". The seemingly good teacher become murderer, because she followed the procedures and the arrangement, and put system above justice.

Reshape the Role of Teachers as Social Intellectuals
To be honest, the system cannot be changed in a day, but the people inside the system can be the key. Teachers, as social intellectuals, are not only responsible for teaching, but changing the society. Teachers have to jump out of the box of "I am just a teacher", and should remain critical to the injustice in the school and the society, and pass this mindset to students, so as to foster social transformation. This is critical pedagogy, which advocates students should have the critical thinking, to think independently and solve problems. Students can have different points of views from real life problems, so they can get away with those rigid models, and think about men and the society.

Conclusion
George Orwell's 1984 warns the world how terrible an authoritarian regime is. If people still face the society with the none-of-my-business attitude, then they would be banality of evil too, as they become puppets manipulated by others. Hong Kong education should not be in this way, and Hongkongers should not be in this way. We should hold our conscience, and probably this is the only thing we can do for Hong Kong.

Reference: Hannah Arendt, Shek Chun-yin, Alex Hui, Tsang Wing-kwong

Statement of the Generation: 02 The Possibilities of Education

Statement of the Generation: 02 The Possibilities of Education
Translated by Chen-t'ang 鎮棠, edited by Stephen Lai and Ryan L., written by The Undergrad session 2015, HKUSU

[DIRECTORY: AT THE END]

So, we are well-trained.

Education and training are two completely different concepts. Training focuses on ‘How’; education focuses on ‘Why’. Training enables us to complete a task; education enables us to determine what we should do. Training is drilling over and over again a set of model answers; education is discovering the answer while you’re learning from the books. Education is less rigid than training and there should give us more possibilities in education.

But when we talk about possibilities in Hong Kong, what are we talking about? We think we only have three possibilities in choosing a university; we choose what we read from limited possibilities: Medicine or Law are the top picks, but Pharmaceutics or Dentistry will make do. Only disciplines that come with a good expected outlook in terms of salary are possibilities. For those who are okay with numbers, a Business degree is also a possibility. These are the so-called possibilities that are presented to us.

The French sociologist Émile Durkheim once said,
Education is the influence exercised by adult generations on those that are not yet ready for social life. Its object is to arouse and to develop in the child a certain number of physical, intellectual and moral states which are demanded of him by both the political society as a whole and the special milieu for which he is specifically destined.
Education is always a way for the State to control Society. Hong Kong’s twelve-year compulsory education system keeps students at school five days a week, ten months a year. We are completely protected and monitored by the schools, carrying out all the so-called “constructive tasks” day by day. The State’s quest for control goes beyond the school-hours and children are demanded to take part in activities sanctioned by Society so no trouble would be caused. When we were small, we were asked to either stay at school or at home. So these are the two main places determining our upbringing. When the education system in Hong Kong makes exams its ultimate objective, schools only encourage an exam-oriented way of learning for the sake of their reputations, rankings and the expectations from the parents. An uniform and rigid curricular creates a singular mainstream value, assimilates non-mainstream values in Society and imposes these values on us. We are asked not to discover things that are not within the syllabus because these do not make us get better grades.

The education in Hong Kong has become a means to tame our children. Education no longer attaches importance to  people’s urbanity, but becomes the medium to instill knowledge.

When the ABC song was ‘A for apple, B for boy, C for cat’, words for things they would encounter in life but the ABC song is now ‘A for astronaut, B for barbarian, C for chimpanzee’. These kids might not dream to become astronauts but they (were made to) believe that if they know complicated words, they would not be unlettered. They might not even see a real chimpanzee in the zoo in their entire childhood.

When the aim of learning a language is no longer to promote mutual cultural exchange but to stand out in exams and interviews, what kind of children do we expect this education system to nurture? Also, for the sake of enrolment in so-called prestigious schools, parents will enrol their children in strangest of extra-curricular activities. Is it not the greatest of ironies that children do not join interest classes out of interest? From the moment they begin to walk, every step HK’s children takes is carefully calculated for the grand design of the future.

Stepping back a little, let’s have a look at the secondary school students in Hong Kong. The number of candidates for the science stream in public exams always exceed that of the humanities’ must take the compulsory subject - Chinese language. The exam paper for this subject is known as the “fatal exam paper” as candidates often perform abysmally in comprehension and writing. What could possibly be the reasons for this?

The kids nowadays are not good at subjects without formulae. Kids can read every words from the passage but they do not know the reasoning behind. They know how to write but we lack the corresponding emotions and wordings. Words are no longer used to pass on the cultural torch or promote exchange but as a means to tackle exams. We no longer crave knowledge but only the techniques for exams. This had lead to the popularity of cram schools. As a social phenomenon, cram schools is something worthy of reflection by the community.

  • Firstly, education becomes commercialized. With the exam-oriented education system, those who attend tutorial school will know the game rules better, and have a higher chance to get into universities. Your certificate affects your job application, and thus further causes inter-generational poverty. Education justifies the unfairness in society.

  • Secondly, the mode of these tutorial classes are questionable. In order to maximize the profit, the number of students for a tutorial class far exceeds the number of students for an actual school’s daytime class. The "tutors" mostly appear in DVDs. With these constraints, students are not encouraged to ask questions. We are afraid of asking silly questions and embarrassing ourselves in front of a group, not to mention questioning the formulae taught in classes. If we have questions, we will sort out ourselves instead of asking these tutors. We are afraid of mistakes and not fitting into the group.
  • Thirdly, the formulaic teaching is to blame too. Tutors will even say there are a set of answering rules to follow for humanities subjects. Even personal emotions can be expressed in formulaic ways. Imagine one day when you turn over an exam paper: instead of asking you to prove a theory, the first question asked how can you apply it in daily lives. The results might be tragic.

Once I saw a quote, "Kids are unique, but where do those banal adults come from?" When asked of books they like, most will answer designated books from the subject curriculum.

In the New Senior Secondary Curriculum, there is Liberal Studies subject. Students might need to study conservation, but how many will go to heritages on their own feet? Students might need to study the political system of Hong Kong, but how many will go to vote once they reach 18? Exams lead us to certain topics, then we will study those topics, and choose to recite those answers which can bring high marks to us. It is just like Pavlov's Dog experiment [translator's note: I guess English readers know this, I'll just skip it].

You might think you are the experimenter, but one day, you realize you are actually a Guinea pig in this huge experiment, and you know how ironic it is. Finally you made it into the college, but the society now tells you your DSE certificate is only an entrance ticket - without it, you certainly cannot get into unis; even with it, the queue is as long as Nathan Road.

Despite our youth receiving higher education, this education has not given them that promised cutting edge in the labour market. Social mobility is constrained. There is a lack of opportunity for us to work as middle-class. We strive a long way, but there is a glass ceiling. Most of the time our degrees might not be related to what we do, but employers insist on aN unnecessary certificate.. Because a certificate does not only mean skill acquisition, but also acquisition of the way of living required by the society, such as going to work on time, completing tasks given, obeying orders without making messes etc. So when undergraduates are using rather radical means to express their demands, the society will say "students are not studying but messing around". But they will not understand, these demands exist because of studying. Because we care about the society, we are able to have independent value judgement, we have so sufficient moral courage that we even dare to take the blame and join those thankless protests and actions. But in Hong Kong, the goal of education means domestication, instead of having one's own idea and opinion, so we became "bad students messing around".

Of course, entering colleges is but an ideal hypothesis. There are limited seats in colleges under UGC. Those who failed to get UGC-funded seats have to apply for associate degrees, self-financing degrees and so on. What comes with their graduation is their college loans, but the chance they can get back into universities is slim. They felt sorry as they have brought heavy financial burden to their families. They have tried their best, but they do not know what (else) can they do. In turn, no matter you want to follow the rules obediently or to fight for a better system in this society, we will not end up in a better destination. What is pathetic or lamentable is, spoon-fed Hong Kong students performed well in PISA, so the society will not reflect on the long term development after our exams.

The education in Hong Kong is distorted: Kindergarten is no different from high school as infants who have only just learned how to hold a pen are already finding it necessary to attend cram school. Conversely university is “kindergartenised” when university holds "parent's day" and provides a reply slip on the notice. We receive education, but we become the educated illiterate who are not used to independent thinking, and eventually do not know how to have independent thinking. From the moment we were born we were doomed to a struggle within this dead alley of “education”.

So, we are well-trained, but we are not well-educated.

How can we, who do not even comprehend the definition of the word “possibilities” imagine a future? Changes in the educational system are not made in a day, but we can begin with the following:

  1. Students should proactively explore knowledge beyond the syllabus and curriculum and read extensively.
  2. Interest classes should be the students’ initiative and not parents’ command;
  3. The Education Bureau (and HKEAA) should avoid making humanities subjects too formulaic. There should not be a model answer nor a marking scheme, but to evaluate the overall standard of the students. That can alleviate the tutorial class frenzy.
  4. Society should not determine the future of students with public exam results. The government should provide more skill-oriented courses, which are widely recognized, to provide more options for the younger generation.
Statement of the Generation

Wednesday, 16 March 2016

Statement of the Generation: 00 - Preamble

Statement of the Generation: 00 - Preamble
Translated by Chen-t'ang 鎮棠, written by The Undergrad session 2015, HKUSU

[DIRECTORY: AT THE END]

This is the change of an era, and we are in this whirlpool. The disputes between generation have not stopped, but the struggle of this era has begun. No one can arrogantly neglect the aspiration from the society. No one can be trampled cowardly by the authority. We might not win the cruel reality, but we have the responsibility to respond to this era. From “Greater China” to localism, from democracy in China to autonomy in Hong Kong, from resistance to awared, comprehensive revolution – we are trying to prove that these are values that all Hongkongers deserve, and also our Zeitgeist. As Immanuel Kant said, “Out of timber so crooked as that from which man is made nothing entirely straight can be carved”.

So we drafted this statement – it began with the difficulties encountered by Hong Kong youth in this era. We described our characters and what do we want our Hong Kong to be. We know the inter-generational conflicts, and dare to point out the problems of them. We are like expecting the birth of a Hong Kong constitution, so we have prepared well to talk about the spirit, the character, the values, the facets and the vision of this code. We are like providing policies, laying the foundation for the council politics in a new generation. We are more like giving us a firm promise, that the blueprint we are having now and the sparkling aspiration will follow us for the whole life that we dare not forget.

Out of a crooked man, we must carve a straight path from it. Hong Kong needs to be under the test of the era. We Hongkongers must create a unique identity too. We Hong Kong youth need to show our strengths and determination. A generation of youth might eventually be old, but the proposals and spirits in this statement will be continuously under critique, debates, as well as developed and practiced – eventually, gaining roots across this territory.

The “Character” of This Generation
We are the best of generations, we are the worst of generations.

We are not born in chaotic times, but rather a moment when the sovereignty of Hong Kong was not transferred to China. The little us were not as perturbed as our older generation. The far and happy childhood was our imagination to Hong Kong: after school, kids ran along with their friends in parks; assignments, tests or exams were never a burden to us; we loved the estate shopping mall where we could buy our daily necessities in grocery stores or markets, or get capsule toys in stationery shops; on holidays, we could go to the Space Museum, Science Museum or Ocean Park, which were not yet cramped. As we grow, we see Hong Kong degenerating. These good old images are becoming the “Old Hong Kong”. Under this political darkness, catastrophes keep on pushing Hong Kong to the brink of death: the bogus One Country, Two Systems; a dysfunctional council; an ineffective horde of law enforcement agencies; a deceitful bunch of media; “white elephant” projects draining on and on... We have entered the worst times of Hong Kong when ridiculous things become normal. We are the generation hung between desperation and hope.

We did not choose Hong Kong, we choose Hong Kong.

Being born in Hong Kong was never our choice – we were born in British Hong Kong but raised in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, and are now living in the Hong Kong which is seemingly ruled completely by the PRC. Some may say if we do not like this identity, we can leave. We have no absolute responsibilities to be loyal to a place, but we have innumerable feelings to protect a place that raised us, and to protect Hongkongers as we share the common language and memories. This is the verity of “being born and raised in Hong Kong”. Even some may see Hong Kong as a temporary place to live; even some may be nonchalant on current affairs and live in the tiny existing freedom; even some may not be willing to resist the authoritarian regime for their homeland, we – amid political, economic, cultural fall – are willing to shout. We are mavericks who are unwilling to succumb to the authority nor interests.

We are the molded generation under competitions.

Our paths have been set since we were small, and pretty much the same one: interest classes, studying, taking exams, getting into colleges, finding good jobs. “We” might begin from different starting points on the running track, be it rich, middle-income or grassroots, but we are heading to the same destination. We compete for educational resources. We have to run faster, better, or even nastier to get others out of the track if we have to win. The last generation said “poor results means failure” and “not getting into colleges means meaningless prospects”, so we study and study for a good job with high salary. We spare no efforts in getting into schools they want us to get in, because education is the tool for social power and wealth allocation. Therefore, if they can afford, we have to go to different interest classes, learning different languages, musical instruments, sports or other art activities, so as to get into the “top-notch schools”. We are exhausted – brains and brawns: tutorial classes after classes make us sharp in exams so as to cut weaker ones away. We are in this competition. Those who win will say this is fair, because the winners are superior and the losers are lazy; the losers think this is fair too, because they have fought hard. Then we are thrown into the attritive society. To survive, one must compete; to compete, one must step on others' failures.

We refuse to live in such monotonous and gruelling society, nor follow the values shaped by the last generation. Even though it sounds hard, we have the courage to break the box. Every possibility exists in our Hong Kong, where artists and athletes can be a good occupation. Everyone should have the chance and possibility to paint and realize their dreams, and choose their own ways. In the Cantonese film “She Remembers, He Forgets”, there is this line: “Dream is things you think you must do before your last breath”. Our dream is to change Hong Kong. We are good at calculation, but failed at too much calculation. From taking means of transportation to life partner, we are too adept at turning things which can or cannot be quantified into numbers, treating success or failure with this so-called rationality. “Either you step on others' bodies, or you'll be stepped”, and one will fall into this endless cycle. In a narrow living space, people are afraid of being stepped on and have become self-protecting. This has in turn become a bigger nightmare.

We resist uncertainties, including resistance. It tampers our “calculators”. The “monochromatic screen” cannot tackle complicated geopolitical questions, so when we saw people taking it on streets, we stood with folded hands. We are not afraid of no fruits. No fruits might even be good, but if those self-deceiving fruits – hope – were gone, who would comfort such wound? Even if I decided to throw away the “calculator” and take on the road against the authority, I might the only one on the road. Who would comfort this solitude? We are domesticated as “rational animals”, but must it be so? “The calculator” shows the arrogance to include the world in a machine. The evolution of men and the advances in the society do not rely on the “calculated” success, but the unknown – which cannot be “calculated” at all. 

Since we were small, we were taught that obedience, instead of arrogance and obstinacy, will help one merge in the mainstream. We follow the mass because we know what comes with that is the pride from the society. The recognition, acknowledgement and status of ourselves can hardly be outside the box of criteria set by the society. When they say “you are elites”, we are elites; when they say “you are wasted youth”, we are wasted youth. The criteria on personal values brutally remove the right to define ourselves. “I” am no longer elaborated by “me”.

The last generation told us we can feel safe when we react in a way everyone likes when appropriate, if our emotions can follow the social ethics. But are we real if our behaviour is not based on real feelings but “set as default”? Are we real if we cannot face our true emotions and suppress how we really feel? There are only two kinds of things in the world, your business and none of your business. The former one needs us to tackle, and we have no stance on the latter one. On one hand we dislike the bland side of ourselves, on one hand we are glad that we are those who are recognized by the society. Every day, we are struggling between self-abhorrence and arrogance, and the only status we have is youngsters in Hong Kong. We have nothing left besides this. Albert Camus, in his book The Stranger, wrote “In our society any man who does not weep at his mother's funeral runs the risk of being sentenced to death.” We do not want to live in the society of Meursault, we want to live our lives.

This generation lives in the “blissed tree shades” of the last generation. We have more resources and are enjoying their economic fruits. They make Hong Kong famous and part of the “Newlonkong”. A beautiful city with bright lights indeed, Hong Kong has become a place chasing after figures. There is no big change in the game rules – survival of the fittest. But the last generation has not yet found out that those on the top who hold most resources are the “survivors”. The last generation has not yet realized that the fairy tales of “Lion Rock spirit” (which says hardship will be repaid well) no longer exists. The social mobility of this generation is low. Hardship can barely get economic fruits in exchange. Justice means following the original game rule. Lessons and preaches such as “What have you done for Hong Kong except messing around?” have become part of our lives. In their eyes, we are but ungrateful wasted youth sitting there; we are useless trash. After the Umbrella Revolution, the values differences between two generations become more and more obvious. Parents or teachers no longer stand with us. Following the “work - eat bread - save money for down payment” chain after graduation, giving seats in MTR compartment, obeying rules set by the last generation are the path for removing the “wasted youth” label.

We do not want to see our society tearing apart. We are sick of bickering with the seniors. We once tried to talk rationally to the last generation but no one seems to comprehend the real world. Some of us came out and strived for changing problems that the last generation failed to against all odds. We carried the sin of “wasted youth/rioters” and neglected the backfire from the last generation. We stood until dawn on Nathan Road or Connaught Road Central. We threw bricks with anger and despair, because we do not want Hong Kong to die.

This generation does not only crave for richness materially, but also the say which is controlled by the last generation, and the freedom we have not had before. We hope Hongkongers can live happily afterwards and continue to be under the “blessed tree shades” brought by the last generation. Maybe we might not be acknowledged by the last generation, but we can only “wilfully” chase after the light at the end of the tunnel amid this storm. If this is what a “wasted youth” do, we are absolutely “wasted”, because what we are after is freedom.

The society sugarcoats the truth, rottens in the hands of officials and gags us all. The society domesticates us, and we can no longer give anything else other than the model answer. We started to refuse and reject because some changes are irrevocable. Our Hong Kong is no longer what it was. It can no longer be tormented. We are restricted by doubts and fears, but we see our weakness and constraints, and try to overcome them. We are talking about things others dare not to. We are pointing fingers to the injustice. More people might enjoy in their comfort circles, but we would rather live painfully because our eyes are no longer blind.

In the face of a ridiculous society and so-called masochistic peers, we have to see hopes in desperation. Wong Pik-wan, a local novelist, wrote: “Hope is like air and light to God. When you say there is hope, and there it is.” We are standing on the cliff and have no alternatives. Let us say “there is hope, and there it is”. We have to see hope, we have to grasp hope.

THE UNDERGRAD 2016 FINALE Editorial Board
Editor-in-chief: Marcus Lau Yee-ching
Deputy editor-in-chief: Chan Hoi-ying; Chiang Min-yen

Statement of the Generation

Thursday, 10 March 2016

Lee Yee: The Rise of Localist and Radicals

The Rise of Localist and Radicals
Translated by Chen-t'ang 鎮棠, written by Lee Yee
Original: http://hk.apple.nextmedia.com/news/art/20160310/19523270 

Edward Leung Tin-kei, the NT East localist candidate who supported "resistance without bottom line", garnered over 66,000 votes. This is the most important trend people should be focusing in this by-election. Leung is different from the establishment camp or the pan-dems. He has no political background, or so-called "fundamentals". After the by-election, Alvin Yeung said some people might support Leung but voted him because they do not want Holden Chow to win. There should have been more votes for Leung in this sense. As a nobody in the political circle, it shows more voters support localists and radical means when Leung got 15% votes.

Two or three years ago I have already said localization and radicalization will be the trend for democratic struggle in the future. In these years, many new discourse appeared, such as City-state Autonomy, Rewriting Constitution, "Brenter" (to return to British rule), Hong Kong Nationalism, Reform Hong Kong and so on. In the establishment, John Tsang or Jasper Tsang mentioned about local feelings or protecting local languages and culture. Holden Chow said their party's local awareness focus on not to cause further conflicts between China and Hong Kong.

The fundamental reason why localists rise is because of the HK-China integration boosted by the HKSARG. In the conflicts, all policies are sided with mainland Chinese and sacrificed the interests of Hongkongers. IVS scheme cramping Hong Kong, milk formula, mainland pregnant mothers and their children, smuggling in the North district, Northeast NT exploration are all about livelihood. White elephant projects such as Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong High Speed Rail (XRL), or Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge are conducted because such projects can "bring mainland and Hong Kong closer" (not to mention such projects are contracted by Chinese companies instead of Hong Kong ones). Localists are just those who resolutely stand on Hongkongers' side amid so many HK-China conflicts. For the time being we might put other discourses aside. If one talks about "local feelings" but has no feeling about those projects that suck up Hongkongers' money and satisfy the needs of mainland China, then that is by no means "local feelings" but allegiance to China. Talking about "not causing further conflicts" but still supporting those sacrificing projects are seemingly neutral, but far from "local awareness".

The rise of localist is absolutely related with traditional pan-dems neglecting Hongkongers' interests. In so many HK-China conflicts, when Chinese interests overrode Hong Kong, we cannot see any support pan-dem "celebrities", but rather, these pan-democrats even said "localists activities are discriminating against mainlanders". When there was a bill about "putting Hongkongers first", pan-democrats even voted against or abstained, or held press conference on backfiring the stance of such bill. Pan-dem also went to UN Human Rights Committee to spread the message of "Hongkongers are discriminating against mainland Chinese". When they support what the establishment camp supported, such as condemning localist actions or vote for the white elephant projects, Hongkongers who want to defend our very own rights can no longer trust these "politicians". That was how localists rise.

In the struggle for Hong Kong interests, localists became alone in the political field and beaten up on streets. Their so-called radical acts are but struggles under oppression when compared to other countries. Alvin Yeung said more people supported localist and radical acts, so he said there should be an overhaul in pan-dem. He even praised "Leung's courage and purity are the key factors in such overhaul". Looking back and having an in-depth review is the starting point for a self-examination for pan-dems.

(Analysis for Pan-democrats: 2)

Wednesday, 9 March 2016

Wesley: In HK's Deserted Battle, It's All About Volition

In Hong Kong's Deserted Battle, It's All About Volition
Translated by Chen-t'ang 鎮棠, written by Wesley
Original: http://www.passiontimes.hk/article/03-09-2016/29222 


What appears on media recently? Students' suicide cases. Why? Stresses from studies. Since the new academic year, 19 has taken their own lives.

We are not them, we can never know how many agony and stresses they have walked through. What they endured might not be solely on academic stresses, and suicide notes can barely conclude their melancholies. Family, friendship, love or other despairs might cause their suicides. For those who were born after the Handover, they have started suffering the stresses from the society: competition for bed spaces, milk formula, lead-tainted water, and after birth? Land, insufficient housing flats, inflation.... okay, "knowledge changes fate", so things might get better in schools? Putonghua as MOI in Chinese subject, national education, spoon-feeding, all-time comparison between classmates and teachers on different things, and the list runs on and on. How about work? We have distorted company structure, unfair treatment from the supervisor, speech like "no overtime work means not aggressive enough", incommensurate proportion between wage and stress, criticisms from the society... these are suffocating.

Stresses do not only come from the pathetic now, and the desperate future. All nonsense policies, all injustice in the society, all ugly faces in LegCo, people disappearing "voluntarily" as if caught by KGB, the "One Country, Two Systems" which has melted earlier than it supposed to be ... spare kids, adults can barely see light in such a long tunnel.

When I was still studying, I will put on a sad face when I encountered difficulties. My mother would sigh and quote Xin Qiji (a Song dynasty literati), "while young, people do not know about sorrow". That might mean, "dude, you have so much more to bear in the future".

But we don't want to bear any more.

Protests, resistance, or "riot" are not for fun. Government officials are civilized beasts when they say "youngsters' resistance is barely for fame among their friends" without looking at the real problem in Hong Kong. Resistance on streets are perhaps the only hope they have got.

The society forces us to stand out, we need perseverance, action and volition. When it comes to valorous resistance, we need to resist all sorts of pressure from the media, we need volition; in companies, colleagues may have an axe to grind with you, you need to keep calm and carry on, we need volition; under the authoritarian regime, we do not scare or retreat, we need volition; academic pressure, classmates' teasing, peers' betrayal, family issues... we need volition to stand.

To live on, we need volition.

And in Hong Kong's deserted battle, it's all about volition.

My youngster friends, I will not ask you to join valorous resistance before your suicidal, or say something like "better to die in glory than live in dishonour". You own your life, and you have the right to choose your future. But remember, you will not lose when you are alive. Turn the so-called "courage to die" into a volition to revenge. Resist to those who looked down upon you, cast injustice on you, cause dejected feelings on you. It might fail, you might fall, but when you carry on and persist, one day, they will fall before you.

Remember - Carry on, and you will know, we can claim victory in this battle, LIFE.