Saturday, September 27, 2014


Picture credit: BBC News.

Hong Kong, you and I need to talk.

We haven't had the easiest relationship over the years. Growing up, I hardly ever felt like I was part of the community -- the reasons are complex and I won't dwell on it here. Nonetheless, ever since I moved to Canada 8 years ago, I have barely been in touch with the happenings in my homeland.

That all changed within the past couple days.

As we speak, thousands of high school and university students are marching the streets of Hong Kong to express their desire for an electoral reform -- the right to elect the governor in a fair election. Instead of being in the classroom, they are out there unarmed, day and night, to stand in the face of power and tyranny.

In the past couple of days, these kids have been beaten by the police, pepper-sprayed, detained, arrested, and subjected to gross brutality by the very same force that is supposed to protect them. Yet, as more and more students are forcefully taken away, more and more take their place. Government response, as a result, becomes increasingly harsh.

This is all sounding eerily familiar.

I am profoundly shocked and appalled by the gross abuse of power by the Hong Kong government against these unarmed young adults. I want to help defend these students and stand between the armed and the unarmed. Being in Vancouver, I could only read the news reports to keep myself updated on what's happening on the ground -- feeling like a hockey player being stapled to the bench while the rest of my team is out there.

I am angry.

I am angry at the government -- the same government that failed on its promise to deliver true democracy. I am angry at the police, the force that turned proud and honourable officers I respected into the face of oppression. Indeed, ever since the Sino-British handover, the government of Hong Kong has been rendered to become nothing more than an extension of the mighty arm of the Chinese government. Freedom of speech and expression slowly gave way to corruption and greed. Any talk of a free election has been frowned upon and downplayed. "Who needs democracy?" says the pro-China elite, "as long as there's a buck to be made somewhere, who cares if your freedom is taken away?" Their voices are very loud and clear.

But at the same time, I am proud.

For the longest time, I have been pessimistic about the future of Hong Kong. I thought it is a foregone conclusion that the elites will eventually run the table, while the majority sits idly by as they are silenced by the totalitarian regime. There will be no free media, no checks and balances, no rights to free speech. I thought that people, especially the younger generation in Hong Kong, would be brainwashed by the education system to forget or ignore the true value of democracy as they are lured to a false sense of financial security and prosperity.

Clearly, they have proved me wrong. The pro-China elite may be loud, but these kids are determined to be louder. Instead of giving up like some of the adults, their uncompromising ideals are driving them to the forefront. Those kids are commendable. In this day and age, those kids are phenomenal. They may well lose the battle, but all the bruises and scars they earned today will continue to serve as a reminder to China that the people of Hong Kong will not give in that easily. They will not tolerate being lied to. They may be overmatched, but in the hopes of a better future, they will do whatever they can to achieve what we deserve.

Never have I felt more strongly about my identity as a Hong Kong citizen than I have in the last couple of days. I am truly humbled by these courageous young adults, and, to borrow from Aaron Sorkin, I'm going with the guys who are getting creamed. I'm moved that they still think they can win and I hope they can teach me a thing or two.

March on, my friends.

Edit 1 (September 28, 2014 at 3:47am PST):

Image souce: Facebook.

Hong Kong, so-called Asia's world city, just fired tear gas against unarmed protestors minutes ago -- most of whom are not even old enough to drink. Unconfirmed reports suggest that the HK Police is threatening to open fire against them.

As I type this, there is also unconfirmed rumours suggesting that the People's Liberation Army has been mobilized across the border into Hong Kong from China in military trucks. The same Army that trampled thousands of people in tanks in Tienanmen Square some 25 years ago. This report is confirmed false as of 12:23pm PST.

To everyone on the ground in Hong Kong, please stay safe.

I am so fucking done with this government.

Edit 2 (September 28, 2014 5:17am PST): 
The Hong Kong Professional Teachers' Union, the largest teachers' organization with more than 90,000 members, has called for a full-scale strike in response to the crackdown on unarmed student protestors by the Hong Kong Police. All classes are cancelled until further notice.

Edit 3 (September 28, 2014 11:23am PST):

Into the early hours, more tear gas canisters were fired against unarmed student protestors in Hong Kong as the protest escalates. Yet, no reports of looting, assault, or arson were reported.

 Watching the video, it would appear that many of the protestors are marching -- with their arms up -- slowly towards the police before being shot with tear gas.

To my friends on the ground, I am sorry I am not there marching with you. Stay safe.

Edit 4 (September 28, 2014 1:10pm PST):

State-controlled media in China has described the Hong Kong Democracy protest crowds as "a mass celebration of the National Day". Un. Fucking. Believable.

Edit 5 (September 28, 2014 2:23pm PST):

Image credit: Twitter.

This picture was apparently taken at around 4 in the morning in Hong Kong. Astonishing.

Edit 5 (September 28, 2014 4:17pm PST):

Image credit: Twitter.

Meanwhile in Taiwan, crowds have gathered around after midnight to watch the live stream of the democracy protest in Hong Kong.

Edit 6 (September 28, 2014 4:20pm PST):

Word on the street is that some Hong Kong Police officers have quit their jobs on the spot to join the Occupy Central protest.

Edit 7 (September 28, 2014 4:45pm PST):

My best friend has also written a take on the Occupy Central protest in Hong Kong. Very good read indeed. 

Edit 8 (September 28, 2014 5:31pm PST):

Photo credit: Twitter

Truck drivers have taken to the streets with their souped-up trucks to blockade Nathan Road and Argyle Street, two of the busiest avenues in Hong Kong.

Edit 9 (September 28, 2014 9:21pm PST):

Photo credit: Facebook.

Day 2: Despite the violence that erupted overnight, no cars were set ablaze, no stores were looted, and no weapons were used by the protestors. In the morning, some protestors have been picking up litter as others hand out food & water -- some even to resting police officers.

I don't know what's more extraordinary -- the fact that very little damage had been caused; the fact that people had the initiative to help clean up the streets; or the fact that protestors knew that the police officers aren't their enemy -- the Chinese government is.

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