Friday, 4 April 2014

Starved for Attention

The pan-democrats who pledged to participate in a hunger strike -- five remain
At the HSBC headquarters in Central, the gates have come down and heavy equipment parked in the public walkway apparently for some repairs there, or is it to deter the pan-democrats from occupying the area?

The politicians are conducting a hunger strike here on the north side of the building with tents set up just outside the indoor public path. They are into the eighth day but as one headline wittily says, they are "starved of support".

Seventeen of them started the "universal suffrage hunger strike" on March 28, but only five of them are remaining because their biological indicators fell to critical levels.

Some critics -- even fellow democrats -- criticize them for being "old school" in trying to garner attention for their cause, while the participants are disappointed that Hong Kong people are so jaded that they aren't paying much attention to what they are doing.

"There is too much negative sentiment in society about everything," said Lee Cheuk-yan, Labour Party chairman and organizer of the hunger strike. "Even if I don't agree with certain approaches [in fighting for democracy] I won't discourage them...

"The hunger strike does not have the total endorsement of the pan-democratic camp... We have invited other pan-democratic parties, including the Civic Party. But this is how it has turned out," he said.

Lee said there were misunderstandings of the fast. It was earlier reported that it would be a hunger-strike relay, but he said this was not the case.

"The action will end when the last of this batch of 17 people gives up. Then we will organize the second and third waves of hunger strikes around July, depending on the reform developments of the government and Beijing-loyalist camp."

He added heavyweights like Cardinal Joseph Zen Ze-kiun and Democrats' founding chairman Martin Lee Chu-ming have volunteered to join, hinting their participation would arouse public attention.

However the 82-year-old Zen may not be allowed to fast for health reasons. In 2011 he only drank water for three days to protest the government's school management reforms. "We were advised to deter the cardinal from joining the strike... We will seek further advice," Lee said.

Next Media chairman Jimmy Lai Chee-ying is considering taking part and that would definitely get media attention. One wonders how Apple Daily and Next magazine would cover their boss's hunger strike.

We can imagine the coverage now: not only would there be stories about the cause, but also an animated clip of them hanging out at HSBC headquarters cracking jokes about Beijing, or better yet produce a theme song that goes viral.

That would definitely irk Zhongnanhai and rope more people into being more supportive of the democratic cause.

How about it, Jimmy?

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