Tragic in every sense of the word

  • Letters
  • Wednesday, 03 Jul 2019

IT’S just disgraceful – there’s no other word to describe the anarchy that has descended upon Hong Kong.

The protests against the controversial amendments to the extradition bill, which allows Hong Kong suspects to be sent to China to face mainland laws, started off peacefully and democratically.

As unwieldy as it may seem, the massive turnout must be tolerated and accepted as part of the democratic process.

The police had exercised tremendous restraint in the face of verbal and physical assaults, and the pressure they had to put up with included being ostracised by their friends and even family members, as anger grew against the HK authorities.

The men in blue were humiliated, incessantly abused and shouted at by the protestors. Those who understand Cantonese can testify how unprintable these curses were, which even implicated the innocent parents and grandparents of the law officers.

This behaviour earns little tolerance in other parts of the world. In the United States, for example, demonstrators would have been hauled away for obstructing the law, and the ringleaders would probably be detained to defuse the protest.

The protestors in Hong Kong have clearly gone too far. This greatly differs from the Occupy protests in 2014, which I covered.

Those were peaceful and orderly, the demonstrators even kept the streets clean, and they respected order – even if they also tested the patience of the cops by hurling similar vulgarities in Cantonese.

On Monday night, I watched in horror live television images of the violent actions of the protestors. The crowd was much bigger this time around, and much more unruly, too.

They used metal cage trolleys and iron poles in a violent showdown. At one point, I saw some leaders seemingly instructing the protestors to retreat, but by nightfall, their numbers swelled again, and they doubled their attacks.

“As the holes in the glass doors grew bigger and a metal shutter was pried open, they flooded into the building, making their way into the legislative chamber, spray-painting graffiti and defacing the seal of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region.

“What moved them to such violent acts? Whatever happened to the peaceful and non-violent principles the city had long embraced – and as witnessed in the countless protests over the past two decades?” the South China Morning Post lamented.

It described the actions as “a real and perceptible shift among the demonstrators – that violence could be a means to achieve an end, even if the outcome was chaos to force the government into a corner, and the cost, their arrest, and in the extreme, even their lives.”

Even CNN presenters, with their blatantly biased coverage and the practice of only inviting anti-Beijing politicians to give their views, questioned if these protestors had gone too far and caused a backlash.

It has been suggested that the police allowed this to happen, as their absence was noticeable when the young mob tried to ram into the building. One CNN correspondent even used the word “trap” to imply that the cops wanted this to happen to shift public opinion.

The CNN presenter said the “world was supporting” the protest. Obviously, CNN has not collated the consensus of Chinese people around the world as many find these protest scenes, flashed across global television, deeply disturbing.

Many ethnic Chinese around the world have friends and relatives in Hong Kong and China, and this riot has become a talking point.

The protest this time just seems too organised and well funded, and happened around the period of the Tiananmen Square anniversary, the Group of 20 meeting, the anniversary of Hong Kong’s handover from British to Chinese rule in 1997 and the China-US trade war.

The organisers had the money to place front page advertisements, calling for G20 countries to condemn China in a move to embarrass Chinese premier Xi Jinping.

But on Monday night, the rule of law and democratic process were thrown out the window as the young protestors – many only still in secondary school – justified their anger and actions by claiming they had no choice but to ramp up their rioting given the inaction of Chief Executive Carrie Lam.

“While most participants during the Occupy protests had emphasised ‘love and peace’ in their demands for universal suffrage, the threshold for confrontation and violence seemed to have been lowered, five years on.

“From the crowds present and interviews with protesters, a much larger proportion of Hongkongers appeared to be no longer opposed to violence as a means to an end compared to five years ago,” the SCMP added.

“The Occupy sit-ins and marches can no longer affect the government’s policies,” said Courage Chiu, a 62-year-old retired primary schoolteacher.

But the rule of law, which the protestors claim they want to champion, has been ironically trampled on by themselves now.

From protestors fighting for a cause, they degenerated to criminals who broke the law by entering a government building illegally and, worse, damaging and vandalising it. If this isn’t the extreme use of violence, I don’t know what is.

Lawmakers, even if they have differences with China, can’t justify the actions of these schoolboys. They should be condemned, not praised.

They also need a history lesson – the British ruled Hong Kong after invading mainland China in 1841, but there were no elections for more than a century.

In 1995, Hong Kong Legislative Council election for members of the Legislative Council of Hong Kong was finally held; it was the first and last fully elected legislative election in the colonial period before the nation was returned to China two years later. So much for democracy and freedom.

So, it was a tragedy in every sense of the word when these misguided teenagers raised the old British colonial flag inside the central chamber of the Legislative Council.

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