"Flunkies of British" and "Noble Chinese Citizens"Translated by Chen-t'ang 鎮棠, Edited by Vivian L., Written by 翼雙飛 (Wing Wing)
A few days ago, I saw a piece of news on CableTV: There is a shortage of regular ambulances in China, so there are many "illegal ambulances" sending patients to the hospital. These ambulances are owned by private operators, and passengers have to call them and PAY for their service. By saying "sending", I mean, these ambulances are merely metal boxes on four wheels with hardly any life-saving equipment. It also reported a deadly incident where the gas pipe of an "illegal ambulance" was broken, leaking carbon monoxide and killing all four passengers on board.
Many Chinese often say, "We China have stood up!", and criticise HKers: "You don't see yourselves as Chinese, but often mention Britain and so on... Haha! You are all flunkies of British people!" True indeed? We "flunkies" enjoyed one of the best ambulance service in the world under British rule. We do not need to bribe ambulancemen before using an ambulance. Patients would not have their oxygen pipes removed and be kicked out of the hospital if they could not afford the fees. We do not need to pay "red packets" to doctors and nurses before having doctors' and nurses' care.
True, before 1997, the British were somewhat privileged, but they also satisfied the basic needs of grassroots. Hawker centre, Dai-pai-dongs (cooked-food stalls), and shopping centres in housing estates used to sell food and daily necessities at affordable prices. Those public facilities were also places where grassroots gathered. Public housing estates built in the colonial era had sufficient spaces, adequate ventilation and good daylight-capturing, making homes comfy. Since the 1970s, six years of free education had started in HK, and was expanded to nine years in 1980s. No matter how poor you are, as long as you excel in school, there are all sorts of public funds, subsides and scholarships to help you along. Eventually you can be successful.
Even the rights of poorest people among the "flunkies of British people" were respected. With the living environment and basic needs were well cared for, people could move upward and be socially mobile. But what about these "Noble Chinese Citizens"? They have to bribe their way to an ambulance when their lives are in jeopardy; rich people cannot get hold of safe infant formula in China for their young; those who protect their homes will be ran over by bulldozers because they are "obstacles to development".
Whatever names they have for us, be it "flunkies", "dogs", or "bastards" -- a fact is still a fact: who would rather be a "Noble Chinese Citizen" if they can choose on their own?