June 4th Is A Matter of Conscience

Indeed, part of what Donald Tsang said was true – the ugly murders took place a long time ago, twenty years, to be exact. Hong Kongers would rather not be reminded of the atrocious event year after year on June 4th. After all, it is a painful memory of a tragedy that served to underline our fear of the horrors of autocratic rule in our motherland. I can still recall the scene in Toronto in which I broke down in tears when I watched TV news while in my brother-in-law’s house – I saw tanks rolling towards Tiananmen Square and the frightened students scrambling to get away, some carrying the wounded on carts. The first thought that came to mind was: “Why on earth are they using tanks to kill those helpless and unarmed young people? Why are the soldiers killing the peacefully demonstrating students?”

Twenty years have passed. Those questions still remain unanswered as of today. Meanwhile, Hong Kong has been able to reap economic benefits from China’s open and reform policy. But most Hong Kongers would never conflate economic prosperity with a serious matter of right and wrong. Tsang could not have made a worse judgment on this issue. Even when the Mainland authorities have been trying to twist the truth around (like laying the blame on the students’ alleged intention to revolt against the CCP – an allegation that is refuted by Zhao Ziyang in his secret memoirs) and to forbid discussions of the subject in the Mainland, this has done nothing to obliterate the shameful deed from Hong Kongers’ memory.

With the passage of time, people’s vehement disgust with the ignominious murderous act has indeed been diluted, as is evident from the declining attendance at the Victoria Park June 4th vigil over the years. Yet, as if to help reverse the trend, a couple of recent incidents have managed to re-ignite Hong Kongers’ feelings of revulsion. In 2007, pro-Beijing DAB legislator Ma Lik blurted out a preposterous “pigs-crushed-by-tanks” analogy which caused a public outcry and, last month, the HKU student union president surnamed Chan tried to defend and rationalize the Beijing government’s violent crackdown, which caused an outburst of anger in Hong Kong society and led to his being ousted from his post.

Oblivious to Hong Kong people’s sentiment, now Donald Tsang has just given an inane answer to democratic legislator Margaret Ng’s pointed question of whether out of his conscience he would support vindication of June 4th, and his response brought about a walk-out by pan-democratic legislators as well as an outpour of vitriol from citizens. This incident has even prompted some to express their disgust through a song.

Contrary to what Tsang believes, when it comes to a matter of conscience, many Hong Kongers are still disgusted with what happened 20 years ago at Tiananmen Square, and by extension, with people responsible for trampling on lives of fellow countrymen at will, and with their supporters. And for the record, Mr. Tsang, your view is your own, not mine, and you don’t represent me.

With the timely publication of Zhao Ziyang’s memoirs, “Prisoner of the State” just a few weeks before the June 4th anniversary, some long-hidden truths surrounding the military crackdown of the Tiananmen Square student movement finally see the light of day. Here are some extracts from the book, courtesy of The Telegraph. This book is going to be on my “to read” list. I sincerely hope that every Chinese on earth, especially the post-1989 generations, will get a chance to read this book and hopefully we shall all come away better informed and more enlightened by it.