Hong Kong Shame
|Alice Poon||May 9, 2008|
Here is my translation of the post:-
“May 2nd from now on should be called the Day of Hong Kong Shame. The reason is that the amiable atmosphere prevalent in those past decades marked by acceptance and tolerance of diversified ideas, cultures and thoughts is declared officially dead on this day.
That morning I was loitering on the section of Nathan Road that lies between Park Lane Boulevard and the Peninsula Hotel. As I expected, the whole length of Nathan Road was filled with the “red army”. Frankly, this sea of red did not surprise me, nor did I resent it. Everybody is entitled to have his/her own interpretation of the meaning of the Olympics. And I do not bear too much grudge against some people’s idea of turning an international event which should belong to the world into something like a Chinese-owned private family event. My only hope is that the Games will help to raise these people’s level of perception about the term ‘international’. Then the event can be said to be a complete success.
But the farther I walked, the more I felt that something was very wrong – this is not the Hong Kong that I’m familiar with.
This was the first thing that vexed me. At the intersection of Haiphong Road and Nathan Road, two separate groups were gathered. One group were hoisting a banner demanding that China should care about human rights while hosting the Olympics, but they were being shouted down by people wearing red and accused of obstructing traffic. But five meters away at the same intersection were another group who were hoisting another banner. This group were the pro-torch team and they were not treated in like manner. Why were the first group accused of obstruction? Is the whole length of Nathan Road not spacious enough to allow some people to express an opposing opinion? If people think that politics has defiled sports, why don’t they use the same yardstick to argue how commercialism has defiled sports?
The second thing that troubled me happened between Peking Road and Nathan Road. Do you remember that a big screen TV was installed on Chungking Mansion? Even before the start of the torch relay, whenever the TV showed a crowd waving the Chinese national flag, there would come loud chants of ‘Go Chinese team go’. I would have been touched by such a passionate scene, but the problem was: whenever the TV screen showed the protestors, there immediately came loud pooh-poohing from all sides of Nathan Road. I couldn’t help starting to think: what’s happening here? Only a few seconds of a TV snapshot could ignite such kind of reaction from the people – this is not the Hong Kong that I’m familiar with. Isn’t it one of Hong Kong’s biggest assets that she is tolerant of different opinions? Why is it that today’s Hong Kong can’t even tolerate an iota of dissenting voice, not to mention it was only conveyed on TV?
The third thing that I found afflicting was what happened inside the Hong Kong Alliance’s protest area outside the Peninsula. It was something to be expected that the Alliance’s protest would be met with scorn. What was at issue was the fact that their protest was legal and they had the permission and approval of the police, though not the police’s protection that was owed them. Yet crowds of people went to swarm the Alliance’s protest area to carry on antagonistic acts. Some deliberately waved their ‘I love China’ placards right in front of the protestors. Abusive shouts of ‘traitors’ and ‘shameless’ were constantly heard, mingled with Putonghua dialogues. Some even used their umbrellas to attack the protestors. The fierceness of the attacks was something that had rarely been seen in recent years.
The last thing I saw that disturbed me happened near the Mosque at the entrance to the Kowloon Park. At that time, the whole pedestrian way was overflowing with the red dress crowds. There were a few people just outside the Mosque silently holding up a banner that said ‘Laughably and Sadly, We Welcome the Torch Timidly’. But the angry red mob went up, grabbed the banner and tore it to pieces. The act was greeted with loud applause.
I had to ask myself this question: is this Hong Kong? The beauty of Hong Kong is her ability to be inclusive and tolerant about different voices. Why is it that people can only come up with a single way of interpreting the Olympics? Since when did Hong Kong become so hysterical about dissenting views? Since when did Hong Kong begin to use violence against dissidents? The right path for the development of a society should lead towards diversification and inclusion. But in the matter of China hosting the Olympics, not only has the event been unable to make the nationals more open-minded and more tolerant, Hong Kong as the first Chinese station for the torch relay has actually exemplified what a narrow-minded, egoistic and violent people that Chinese nationals are, ultimately leaving behind a theme of uncouthness and uniformity. It’s been ten years since the handover, and preparation for the Olympics has been going on for eight years. During this period, we have not grown at all, and our vision is becoming narrower and narrower. Can you not feel that a sad sad song is slowly playing? Hong Kong is dead. It doesn’t matter that her economy is prosperous. What matters is that her heart and her vision have become smaller and narrower. Finally the spirit of Hong Kong will become drier than the Tai Wai section of the Shing Mun river, and then step towards death.”