September 28, 2014

Watching Hong Kong going down the toilet

Pin It

Let me start with a little background on myself:  I'm Taiwanese by origin (I tell people I'm MIT... "made in Taiwan") and spent some years in my youth growing up and being educated there.  Which is to say that at one point I was brain-washed by the KMT about parts of China's history.  My grandpa served under Chiang Kai-shek and always hung a portrait of the Generalissimo that he received from the man himself.

As I grew up and spent my years from puberty to adulthood abroad, I became exposed to different points of view, and (I hope) matured into someone who embraces democracy, freedom of expression, equality for all...etc... you know, all the "Western" values.  In a recent interview with a journalist from a US paper, I stated that I am "as liberal as they come" when it comes to the issues and ideas related to freedom and equality, although I respect the right for people to have opinions different from mine.

I'm certainly not the world's foremost expert when it comes to anything, but I have spent a number of years watching China and its leadership from different points of view.  I lived through the Tiananmen massacre of 1989 as a college student, and that had a significant impact on me.  So you can understand that I'm not the biggest fan of the leadership in Beijing.

Nearly twenty years ago, I made the decision to relocate with my firm from New York to Hong Kong.  It was a good career move, and I landed here in June 1995.  The plan was to stay for two years, and move somewhere else before the Handover in 1997.  Well... it's glaringly obvious how that plan worked out...

In the months leading up to the July 1, 1997 Handover, many people asked me what I thought would happen after the Chinese took over Hong Kong.  My responses at the time ran along the lines of "not a lot would change for the first five years, but then things will just go down the toilet."  I was sure that instead of Mainland China rising up to Hong Kong's level - as Deng Xiaoping supposedly envisioned - the two sides would actually converge... meaning Hong Kong would actually be worse.

Well, there's no doubt in my mind that many things in Hong Kong are worse than they were before the Handover.  While we still enjoy a higher degree of freedom of expression and more liberties than people in Mainland China, things are certainly "less free" today than before.  But hey, things could be worse, right?

Well, today things got worse.  A lot worse.  I was never a fan of the current Chief Executive CY Leung.  The guy has ZERO integrity.  Just look at the case involving him putting up illegal structures at his residence.  This was a guy who built a career out of property surveying, who clearly knew what was and was not legal.  When you knowingly break the law, you don't deserve to be leading Hong Kong.  Anyway, enough about this guy.

Today I saw tensions escalate quickly between protesters wanting more democratic freedom and the Hong Kong Police.  While some of the action of the protesters were clearly out of line, it is indisputable that Hong Kong Police were being very aggressive.  Pure speculation, but I'm guessing that some of them enjoy emptying their cans of pepper spray right in the protesters' faces.  And there was no need to deprive the protesters of their umbrellas, while the police kept their own protective shields and helmets.

As evening began, we heard that the police had fired teargas into the crowd.  That was totally uncalled for.  Was the crowd being aggressive?  Were the police physically threatened?!  It's true that I wasn't there myself, but I have serious doubts about that.  So what justified the use of teargas?  It's upping the ante unnecessarily, and only serves to piss people off.

Then there are the signs that Hong Kong Police hold up to warn the crowd.  While some display milder language, and we see ones that warn "Disperse or we will use force", I was more than a little shocked to see others that said "Disperse or we will fire (guns)".

WTF?!  Fire what?!  Are you gonna shoot into the crowd?  With what?!  Rubber bullets, or real ones??  Is this really happening in Hong Kong?!  Or have I been transported to Egypt, Bahrain, Syria, or back in time to the Beijing of 1989?  I sincerely hope not.

To be fair, I'm not aligned with the causes of the protesters.  While I would like to see a full "Western-style" democracy implemented in Hong Kong, I wasn't the least bit surprised that the powers that be in Beijing didn't see fit to grant the people of Hong Kong what some of them had wished for.  That was to be expected.

And Benny Tai and his gang of people - who did their share of "saber-rattling" (as if what they were holding were really sabers) in front of Beijing - didn't help things.  Anyone who has spent any time studying the actions of Beijing over the years would know that they don't respond well to threats, never mind that Benny and his friends were never in a position to threaten Beijing with anything.  Finally, anyone who teaches law as a profession and encourages others to break the law just gets reduced to a big fat zero in my book.

I also think the students are a little too naive here.  I applaud them for standing up for what they believe in, and making sure that their voices are heard.  But what makes them think that CY Leung will come out and talk to them just because it's what the students wanted?  What makes them think that Beijing will just toss out what they had just decided on, and lose face in front of the entire world?!  I'm not gonna opine on whether they were manipulated by other interests or who these people were, but needless to say they still have some learning to do... not necessarily in the classrooms but in life.

Anyway... I've lived here for the better part of 20 years, and although I've never used the term "my beloved" in relation to Hong Kong, it is for better or worse home as far as I'm concerned.  I hate to see things go down this path, and I am fearful of what may be yet to come.  But I pray that what I am most fearful of will never come to pass.

Meanwhile, the eyes of the world are on Hong Kong.  Maybe it's time the world sees CY Leung for the man he really is.  Your move, CY Beijing.  The world is watching.

No comments:


Related Posts with Thumbnails

TripAdvisor Travel Map