Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Astrophel Lim: Reflections on 817: Anti-Occupy Central Is But Lies Within Lies

Reflections on 817: Anti-Occupy Central Is But Lies Within Lies
Translated by Vivian L., Written by 林非 (Astrophel Lim)
Original: http://astrophellic.wordpress.com/2014/08/18/謊言在謊言之上-817-黑筆記事/ 

How many turned out in Sunday's (Aug 17) Anti-Occupy Central march? Organiser Robert Chow Yung spoke his heart afterwards: Numbers don't matter. Such a contrast with Chow's previous bluff claiming to stage a rally with "the biggest turnout in record history". Promotional gimmicks, after all.

From the morning run for democracy to the afternoon march against Occupy Central, the anti-Occupy campaign was a mimicry to turn the Occupiers' weapons against themselves, played out at its finest. The pan-democrats said they represent Hong Kong people's will? Look, we do too! We speak for an even bigger majority!

On the surface, Chow's mass campaigning is just a replica of what the pan-democrats have been doing all along. In reality, the support from the dense array of native-place societies, united front associations and pro-Beijing companies that were showered upon the anti-Occupy campaign is simply out of the pan-democrats' league. Public transports that used to shy away from political advertisements have now made way for the anti-Occupy promotion. Double standard in broad daylight! In fact, it is an efficient tactic on the part of the pro-government camp. Just lobby a few movers and shakers in the corporate circle and have them use their own resources to mobilise their vast number of employees, and the rest is easy. Soliciting the support from these big players proves much more cost effective than working up the average Joes and Janes. Because more often than not, intangible benefits are enough to win over people of power and stature. On a similar note, earlier when there was an outcry among Hong Kong's young accountants because of China's new law that put their jobs on the line, a couple of "solemn pledges" from some of the big names would have suffice to calm public sentiments.

Hong Kong's collective karma: The bystanders' crack of doom


Doing business has always been Hongkongers' priority. Their eyes are perpetually fixed on the carrot on the stick but--it pains one to admit--never on dignity of being human nor the question of justice in society. If justice had been our priority, the Law Society would not have been headed by the likes of Ambrose Lam in the first place. It took Lam's outrageous statement demeaning the entire legal profession for the society to pass a vote of no confidence against its president for the first time in 108 years. But why would that have been a "first" to begin with? Even when their jobs were in jeopardy because of China's fickle rules, have our bean counters learned their lesson yet? Have they decided to stand up for justice now? Society rewards members of professional services with stature and respect, only to falsely assume the recipients to possess the knowledge, aspiration and vision that match up to their name. The one thing Hong Kong is in grave need of is ideological aspiration: a rock-solid ideology for societal development and the base for its discussion. Many would be quick to abandon one's principles and beliefs for petty favours. Other so-called "scholars" and "professors" would not think twice to use their knowledge to manipulate and connive--ones such as Ho Lok-sum and Francis Lui Ting-ming.

So three groups of people formed the participants of the anti-Occupy Central rally: the average Joes who were mobilised by their superiors, the big players who stand to profit from the game, and the simpletons who had no real interest in whatever that is going on and had came only for the paltry charity. All they care could be as simple as a ticket to a meal, a visa to come shopping, or an alternative form of "tourism". In essence, these groups of people may not be at all different. All it takes for them to sell out their principles and beliefs could be trivial and minute for few would think much beyond the surface of things. To many who took part in the march, the equation might have been straightforward: they get a free meal, Hongkongers get to have the supposedly good "one person, one vote" universal suffrage—win-win. Or is it so?

In reality, if this vote, granted under the current electoral framework, gives the voters no real choices, what good is "having the vote"? North Korea has a universal suffrage election too, but would anyone say its people is granted free will to choose their leaders? Can the principle of "universal suffrage" be realised simply with "one person, one vote"? To the average Hongkongers, these things prove too much of a strain to process, and probably don't have a place in their households as people cannot see how these things could "make your spouse loves you more" [link in Chinese only].

Many participants of the anti-Occupy Central march had come under the pretence of "native-place societies", some were shipped to the march in buses hired by the organisers, still others told reporters flat out they had came to "shop". Among the "natives" of these native-place societies were members of the Hong Kong's ethnic minority. Many South Asians in Hong Kong may be living hand to mouth, a condition that might have prompted them to go to any lengths to make a little money (besides, going on a march is not against the law). On the other hand, it was the mainland Chinese who keep saying "blood is thicker than water" that contributed to such a scheme to sabotage Hong Kong's future for petty favours such as "shopping". These "individual cases" keep popping up, relentlessly undermining Hong Kong's de facto system. Even if dissidents shout at the top of their lungs, "Hong Kong people wants democracy," it would be like being in a dark room and looking for a black cat that no one can be certain whether it's there. Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying mainland Chinese don't want democracy. In a society where a pall of corrupt air hung over people's heads, should it surprise anyone that reason would be a singularity?

You said nothing when houses are torn down, nothing when tap water smells like sewage, yet when Hongkongers argue over universal suffrage you rush over to protest against it? pic.twitter.com/mP4r9kgKAD 
— PervertedPepper (@remonwangxt) August 17, 2014

The stupidity demonstrated by anti-Occupy Central probably shows us what an Ebola outbreak would look like in Hong Kong. A long standing political non-participation has deprived Hongkongers of the will to hold on to an ideology and the ability to envision on a societal perspective. What makes a better society? What makes something good or bad, right or wrong? None of these matters to the city dwellers. In this respect such mentality is not much different to the Chinese north of the border, "I no care who is president. I live good I'm happy."

When they see the chengguan (China's much-hated local cops) beating up innocent people, their perception of the problem ends at violence being wrong, failing to recognise the larger phenomenon behind the brutality. Similarly, when the pro-democracy camp put forward the Occupy Central movement, they only see the "occupy" part of the equation, without understanding the "why" behind.

Hongkongers like to abuse the notion of "neutrality" [link in Chinese only]. But in effect, playing the "neutral" party often is just the same as sitting on the sidelines while Gian bullies Nobi.

Gian bullies Nobi. Whose side are you on?
(Source: https://www.facebook.com/nagee.tw/photos/a.10151409298917312.1073741829.353390642311/10151970990337312/?type=1; Translation by HKCT)


What has been dominating the pro-democracy discourse over the years are none other than terms like "value", "ideology", "justice", "fairness" parroted by Hongkongers without them actually taking root in people's lives. This is why "one person, one vote" can take the place of the principle of universal suffrage; a hollow slogan "for peace and universal suffrage" can mask Beijing's intention the screen out "unfavourable" candidates; a black thumbs down for "oppose violence" can wipe away the brutal violence of the system that favours the privileged class, and accuse the repressed of being violent.


Lies within lies


The actual figure of the anti-Occupy day turnout is of no significance. Rather, the anti-Occupy movement signifies that our government has relinquished the principle of "political neutrality" when virtually the whole administration has rallied to the movement. And to the core organisers and advocates of the campaign, the success of the march serves as their bargaining chips to seek rewards from Beijing.

In fact, no matter the actual turnout, it will just be reduced to a figure on a page. Whether it is July 1st or August 17th, Beijing officials would not have come to witness the scene in person anyway. They would have to rely on "middlemen" to deliver the message. And it's only natural that these middlemen would play a little trickery to scrape more favours within the power hierarchy. Be it a hundred thousand or two hundred thousand, China will not budge. You say the pro-establishment camp has gone to extreme lengths to "appeal" to march-goers? Yet we are all certain of one thing, even if they get hold of the truest figure, everyone knows the numbers would have been inflated. But anyhow, the figure is not to be mistook for any real public opinions but a demonstration of force. They would not have cared. As far as political operation is concerned, the existence of a "march" is enough to adorn their own narratives. So when news of the event arrives at the Chinese officials, the number would have easily been magnified to hundreds of thousand of citizens took to the street "on their own accord".

In the eyes of the communist party, what is our humble existence to match wits with the great master of fraudulence? Speaking of art of practising fraud, our humble existence is perhaps nothing more than a witless preschooler compared to the master. Beijing officials are clear how the figure was conjured up. The march was but "an example to the public of Hong Kong" and "a means to elicit internal conflict among the people of Hong Kong". But why? What for? Even Beijing itself can't make head or tail of the whole conundrum.  Once again, Democratic Party is in dialogues with Beijing's man. When the current atmosphere suggests a "50-50 split between pro-democracy and pro-Beijing camps" and "whoever has the gold makes the rule", even the strongest of characters would find it hard to stand their ground.

Robert Chow and his centrist band of campaigners, the Hong Kong government, and the Chinese officials are all sure of the actual state of affairs, and they are sure these people mobilised by the campaign did not come because of an ideological aspiration, and they are sure what the campaign rallied for would do more harm than good. They all knew from the bottom of their hearts. But for the sake of their own interests both political and monetary, none of these should matter. In fact, it comes as no surprise that the whole generation of 1950s and 60s should think like this. Like Chow, his must have known that his project has done Hong Kong more harm than good. If he had truly believed what he is advocating for, if his gut told him a genuine universal suffrage that is fair and open would be possible under the rule of the Chinese commies, and that Hong Kong would be headed for a brighter future, why then, is his holding on for dear life to his British passport? [Translation note: In an earlier interview, Chow had denied holding a British passport, but admitted having the right of abode in Britain, which he claimed to be working with his lawyer to renounce.] 

On the same token, why are the families and children of Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying and Chief Secretary Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor stuck in Britain and deprived of such hopeful future in Hong Kong? So they all have told blatant lies without batting an eye because of what that they stand to benefit from the injustice and dirty politics they sustain. Yes, they have known all this time they are breeding injustice. If it's any consolation, let us be reminded that to do wrong with the knowledge of being in the wrong is an unpardonable sin. In essence, their sins are no different to that of the Nazis during World War II. Behind the impressive slogans and the extermination camps that were set outside of German soil, the Nazis made sure Germans bore no witness to their cruelty.

Ever since the handover, Hong Kong has inevitably found itself en route to a grim future. This is due, for one, to China's invasion and colonisation of the city; for other, the cynical ignorance and fixation on sops on the part of Hongkongers. Since its early days, the post-handover HKSAR has had a bad track record. From the Provisional Legislative Council and the dissolution of two municipal councils during the first years, to the sleazy tactics to mobilise people against people, officials rallying for a political course "in a personal capacity", and public money and devices being used to spread a propaganda of today, all indications are that the downward spiral our city is already on will only go on.

Many born in the 1950s and 60s regard politics as something to be avoided. They seek no knowledge nor involvement in such affairs. With a fixation on petty interests and an indifferent attitude, they were happy amassing fortunes in the last twenty years of colonial times. Today's top men in the power hierarchy do not earn their seats with astute abilities nor a singular vision, but by skills that comprise abandoning one's principles and trimming one's sails to the wind. This aspiration to "climb the ladder" has not failed to recruit supporters from the new generation, many of whom make up the proponents of the conservative camps.

In an environment as such, the post-80s generation is doomed to be a peculiar kind. They have had the final glimpse of prosperity and grace of Hong Kong under colonial rule. They have also witnessed the descend from grace into calamity. They are the victims in a society increasingly disparate between classes, forgotten and outcast. No one knows how long this age of darkness is going to last. But the days of the Chinese commies might not be long. And who's to say the Chinese who are just as shortsighted might not overthrow the Chinese government? Populate with people who lack the capability to reason, and who are more concerned with clique membership than with proper judgement, where will this nation be headed? These are not things one can be optimistic about.

To quote ST Chow: "The percentage vote share of the pan-democrats has gone from 66.12% in 1998 to 56.24% in 2012. Eliminating the votes secured by 'non-allies' League of Social Democrats and People Power, the pan-democrats register a lowly 41.55%." And we can expect the percentage to sink even lower. In the face of the opponent's robust network to mobilise an infinite supply of people and resources, and their own sinking vote share, the pan-democrats are more pathetic than the polar bears that had died of exhaustion trying to swim their way to an ice floe—at least the bears tried.

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