Sunday, 5 October 2014

Deadline Day

From John Lennon's song but very apt for the Umbrella Revolution in HK
Today is deadline day.

The police have reiterated many times that the streets have to be cleared for schools and government offices to open. The number of protesters was much smaller at the sites, and in Mongkok there were still verbal jousts here and there. Students didn't want to get into ideological fights with middle-aged men and women; they just wanted to stand their ground -- literally.

Then in the afternoon a man claiming to have three young children, climbed on top of one of the bridges at Admiralty and threatened to jump if he didn't get to speak to representatives of the Federation of Students and live coverage by foreign networks.

Around dinnertime people still wandering around Admiralty
He said that his three children were unable to go to to school for a week and wanted the Occupy movement to end. Firemen put out a giant inflated mat for him in case he did jump and Alex Chow of the federation did arrive, but wanted the man to come down first before they talked.

So jumping off a bridge is going to solve the problem? And it's only been one week, with two days that were public holidays. If you die, then your kids won't be able to go to school! He just made no sense.

Eventually after several hours and sips of water, he did come down. It was a pathetic way to try to hijack the protest...

Late in the afternoon I went to the gym for a swim and since it is located near Central, it was very quiet, or most members had already gone earlier in the day and didn't want to be there too late.

Around 6.30pm I headed over to Admiralty for one last look with my friend YTSL.

The messages on the Democracy Wall were heartening to read
While there was hardly the massive crowd that was there last night, there were still several hundred people there, like us, taking in probably the last time we can walk on a highway freely and breathe relatively clean air.

We checked out the Democracy Wall where there were thousands of colourful pieces of paper filled with messages of hope, encouragement, and love for Hong Kong and its people. Many said 香港加油! or "Hong Kong add oil" or "Hong Kong keep going! and "Hong Kong for Democracy". There were a few calls for Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying to step down, but on the whole they were optimistic and proud.

Then we went on the Connaught Road overpass and walked towards Central and ended up at Motorino for dinner.

My own little message for everyone!
Coming home I am reading reports that there are many people who are still refusing to leave the protest sites despite numerous warnings from police, university chancellors and even protest leaders. It remains to be seen what will happen to them later tonight, but the Federation of Students is preparing to meet with Chief Secretary Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor tonight.

On this possible last day, it made me think about what these eight days have achieved.

The protests have definitely shone a spotlight on the social and economic problems Hong Kong has faced in the last several years, how the rich continue to get richer, and the poor poorer.

Former Chief Secretary Anson Chan Fong On-sang wrote a brilliant piece in the Guardian today, accusing both Britain and China of not keeping their promises for what would happen to Hong Kong after 1997.

At the end of the opinion piece, she succinctly explains the generational divide in this protest and why so many young people are out in the streets because they have nothing to lose:

A last look at Admiralty with some determined to stay
Many of these young people only know life after Chinese rule. They are worried about many of the same things that worry young people in Britain and elsewhere. Will they find a job? Will they ever be able to buy a home?

For them, the big change in Hong Kong since I was their age is perhaps the decline in social mobility. In earlier decades, there was great social mobility -- if you worked hard, you could move swiftly up the social ladder. There was a certain sense of cohesion.

Now within the territory there is a sense of them and us. Those who make money are tempted to stay quiet, to maintain their links, their status. The rest, they want what many people want across the world -- a good education and an open society.

And through these protests that have been unprecedented, these young people have become more civic minded and politically active. They will not kowtow to Beijing that easily, nor will they believe everything senior Chinese leaders say.

They have become a force to be reckoned with and while tonight be a retreat, it is not a defeat. They will definitely come back to fight another day. And they know they can do it.



  1. As you effectively said in a previous post: who knows what tomorrow will bring? And while there are some that will say that nothing's been achieved in the past week, I -- for one -- will say that the actions of the Umbrella Revolution/Movement participants have made me prouder of, love, and have more have faith in, Hong Kong than ever before.

    1. HI YTSL -- I think everyone will agree that what we saw last week was amazing for what was achieved. Hong Kong people made their voices heard -- directly to the Leung administration and Beijing. No filters!

  2. I just saw something that would confirm the CCP have a hand in using thugs/triads against Occupy Central with the cops just standing there...

  3. It doesn't matter if HK people made their voices heard, especially if CY Leung, his administration and the CCP is deaf.

    Maybe a drop in foreign investment out of China should get the CCPs attention.

    1. HI nulle -- how do you propose this drop in foreign investment in China?