Thursday, 16 October 2014

Finding Courage and Hope

Thousands come to listen to the student leaders speak tonight in Admiralty
This afternoon Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying gave a press conference with Chief Secretary Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor standing by him.

He basically explained the government was working on three things: holding and maintaining dialogue with the protesters, which could be as early as next week; restore order in Hong Kong by clearing the roads; and holding the second round of public consultations regarding electoral reform.

Groan.

Many are camped out here for the long run...
Leung reiterated the National People's Congress August 31 decision on electoral reform cannot be revised, and that "politics is the art of the possible", insinuating that civic nominations were impossible.

Raymond Tam Chi-yuen, secretary for constitutional and mainland affairs also explained that no where in the Basic Law does it say anything about universal suffrage, and that Hong Kong people should accept what has been decided by the NPC for 2017, and that this was "the beginning of a new chapter" for Hong Kong in its quest for democracy.

Groan.

No one really expected Leung to say anything enlightening, but the fact that they repeated over and over that there was no way of changing Beijing's mind on its decision on how candidates would be chosen for the next chief executive showed the Hong Kong government was just a conduit for the central government, that Leung hasn't really spoken for the city's residents.

And the second round of consultation -- has he not seen or heard what has been going on for the past 19 days? The people have spoken, but he has not listened. He explained that he had taken into consideration people's views and put them in a document presented to Beijing, but he obviously didn't choose a wide range of opinions.

A string of paper umbrellas decorate Admiralty like flowers
Surely if Leung collects more views and they are all the same, he definitely isn't representing the interests of Hong Kong people.

And so it wasn't surprising to see several thousand people out in Admiralty tonight.

They, like me, came for consolation. I was overwhelmed with emotion seeing so many people there, of all ages, clapping and shouting approval at what the student leaders were saying. They continued their refrain about how this movement was peaceful, that it was fighting for democracy, that Leung was not sincere, and how this is about Hong Kong's future.

I was overwhelmed to see these protesters, die-hard ones as well as people coming in the evenings in their work clothes, all united for one cause. Despite the bad news they received from Leung today, they were still determined to continue fighting for what they believe in.

This is Hong Kong. This is what Hong Kong people are. Resilient, determined, hardworking and amazingly civil.

I finally heard Joshua Wong Chi-fung speak tonight. He advised the rapt audience not to swear at and clash with police. The bespectacled 18-year-old recalled the protesters' fight with police over Tung Lo Road, saying:

Italian painter Francesco Lietti invites protesters to make art
"It was 4am. Some protesters were swearing at police officers. I also saw masked men standing at the back telling people to clash with police while they themselves did nothing," he said. "I felt so helpless and didn't know what to do.

"I hope you can remember that we are here to protest, not to vent our anger," Wong continued. "Should we see the police as a tool to vent our anger? This is a question each of us here should think about."

I can't help but think that the students will meet with Leung, but then it will be the same thing all over again, that he won't even address their concerns about broadening the nomination process, and the chief executive will again parrot that they should read the Basic Law.

As Civic Party lawmaker Alan Leong Kah-kit says in his reaction to Leung's press conference, "What CY Leung has in mind is, obviously, to lecture the students, instead of having genuine dialogue," he says.

"But I would hope that the Federation of Students would... say yes to the dialogue [because] it is important for [Leung's] lack of genuineness to be exposed to both the Hong Kong public and the world by this so-called dialogue."

Any talks are better than no talks. That's something probably everyone can agree with...

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