Letter to Hong Kong

8//2019
RTHK

My Austin dearie,

A week after you were born, Hong Kong has been experiencing a crisis.

In the past few weeks, most of the people in Hong Kong, like me, are deeply moved by the controversy arising out of the extradition bill.

The voices from all of us are crystal clear – calling for a bill that has not yet been put into law be revoked, and demanding that the status quo be maintained.

On the 9th of June, it took around 9 hours for us to march from the Victoria Park to Admiralty.  Despite the sweltering heat and a rather tardy movement, all of us and thousands of protesters remained patient, trooping along the streets in order and in peace.  People of all ages and from all walks of life, including families, senior citizens, students and youngsters, flooded the main streets of the Hong Kong Island.  Though they do not know each other, and, mostly, without any dialogue, I, as one of them, can deeply feel that everyone here in the mass is sharing a common view, and gearing towards the same direction.  I believe this is an unprecedented connection. Indeed, I have witnessed and deeply experienced the solidarity among Hong Kong people.

Disappointingly, the Government ignored the opinion of more than a million of protesters, and decided to resume the Second Reading debate of the Bill as scheduled.  Overwhelmed by frustration, despair, annoyance and uncertainty, most of us were upset and furious. Hong Kong people could no longer stand with such an arrogant Government.

Distressed by the disheartened response of the Government, many people decided to stage another protest on 12th of June and siege the LegCo Complex.  Hopefully, in such a way could spark the Government with a sensible second thought to have the bill revoked.  Though the protest started off in a peaceful manner, unexpectedly, with an escalated emotion of both protesters and police, it stormed up into battled clashes around the LegCo Complex in Admiralty.

Without warning, the police fired rubber bullets, tear gas and pepper spray to those protesters who were mostly gathered in a peaceful manner, and, worse still, the journalists who were just being loyal to their duties.  Though staying in the LegCo Complex taking care of the injured and providing necessary backup, I did witness such unnecessary bloodshed which resulted from an unbalanced used of force and abused of authority.  I really felt heartbroken and helplessness.  Those scenes still lingered in my mind, and I could not help asking myself: “Do we still have hope here in Hong Kong?” “Does rule of law still valid here in our society?”  To most of Hong Kong people, I believed, the abuse of violence in this crackdown is clearly beyond the limits, and it is absolutely unacceptable!

A couple of days after 12th of June, I come across messages from various sources saying that the Police had been arresting anti-extradition bill protesters while they were attending hospitals for treatment through illegal access into the hospital’s clinical data system, or even tapping patients’ information from frontline staff.  It was noted that, at least, five protestors were then being detained while seeking medical help.  Besides, the sources also revealed that some of injured protestors were reluctant to seek medical advice because of having fear of being arrested, which, in turn, could end up with delaying treatment of their medical conditions.  At the same time, some frontline staff also reported that they had received instructions and requests from the hospital management asking them to categorize and report those patients who were suspected to participate in the recent demonstration in Admiralty.

I was extremely disturbed by these happenings not only because they involved the breach of patient’s privacy, but also greatly affected public’s perceptions towards the integrity and professional practice of our frontline staff.

Hence, letters were being drafted to seek clarifications from the Hospital Authority and the Police Force, and reiterate that patient confidentiality should never be compromised.  Besides, these two public bodies were also reminded to stop any unnecessary measures that would end up spreading “white terror” among frontline health professionals.  In addition, the senior management was also requested to review the current procedures and practices which could help sustaining an optimal environment that meets the operational needs of frontline staff.  Furthermore, attempt had been made to escalate these issues to the Chief Executive during a meeting with her on 15th of June.

Agitated by her signs of arrogance and conceit in her press conference, around 2 million people, including myself, most of us were in black, took ourselves onto the streets again on 16th of June.  It was noted that the number of protestors was not only increased substantially comparing with the previous Sunday, it was a record high ever in the past thirty years as well.  All the people participating in this protest strongly reiterated the following five demands:

1/. Complete withdrawal of the extradition bill;

2/. Investigate responsibility to shoot;

3/. Retract the characterization of protest as riot;

4/. Release arrested protesters;

5/. Step down Carrie Lam.

In view of the massive protest, though the Chief Executive, later in that evening, released a written apology and agreed to suspend the bill, she showed no intention to revoke the bill.  Ironically, the Commissioner of Police, at the same time, also put forward a clarification stating that the so call “riot” was only pointing to a small group of people, namely five, who had displayed violent acts.  Indeed, such expedient tactics only revealed that the Government wanted to dilute the temper of the protestors.  She showed no plan to admit her wrong doings.  Not only dissatisfying with the Government’s reply which considered to be not really addressing public’s demands, the protestors also worried that bill could be put back for legislation again soon.

Looking back how thing unfolded over the past few weeks, the way the Government handled this issue was indeed very disappointing.  It demonstrated a complete failure in connecting with the public.  Though the Chief Executive and some government officials expressed apology and many senior officials explained that “suspension” was almost equivalent to "withdrawal", no solid answers had been make to address the public’s major concerns.  In one way or the other, what the Government had done was actually reinforcing the notion of “refusing listen to people” which further intensified the crisis.

Two weeks before the 1st of July, in response to this obstinate government, two young people committed suicide.  People’s emotion was further disturbed.  To advance their discontent, the Police Headquarters was being sieged, and   some protesters, adopting the “be water” tactic, moved around key government buildings from Admiralty to Wanchai.

Discerned with the Chief Executive’s speech at the flag-raising ceremony, which, again, offered no reply to the public’s demands, more than half a million people peacefully marching from the Causeway Bay to Admiralty on the first day of July, and thousands of protestors made attempts to besiege the Exhibition Centre and storm the LegCo Complex.  In that late evening, the protest finally descended into violence, and the protesters forced their way into the Legislative Council Building.  The legislature was vandalized and turned into a state of chaos.

Watching the live broadcast that night, I was shocked and my heart was flattened.  Hong Kong people used to express their views rationally through non-violence social movement.  While comprehending the emotion and attachment of the protesters, confrontation and the use of violence should never be the solution to resolve unrest and impasse.

Sadly, it was also noted that, just recently, two more young people ended up their precious lives in making another appeals to the Government.

I believe that every attempt has to be made to address the existing social tensions through trust, mutual respect and rational discourse.

To move the city forward, I would appeal to the Government to have the courage to adopt an open and youth-friendly attitude starting off a direct dialogue with Hong Kong people, especially the youngsters and students.  It would be difficult but this is what a sensible and responsible Government has to be done.

Caring about the future of Hong Kong, the Government should take the lead to have genuine communication, consultation and negotiation with all sectors on issues of concern so as to restore social order and put a stop to the chaos.

If that could be done, I do envisage that Hong Kong still has a bright future!

My dear little one, wishing you all the very best and good health!

Uncle Joe

 

 

 
 
更新日期: 2019-7-8