Before the SentencingTranslated by HKCT, written by Edward Leung TIn-kei 梁天琦 (on 10 June 2018)
Before I returned to Hong Kong, I once read a news report about the tendency of Hongkongers in recent years to emigrate. The poll showed that more and more Hongkongers are moving abroad. Among youngsters, an overwhelming majority considered emigration. At the same time, some “dignitaries” said that if youngsters are so dissatisfied with the society and feel pessimistic about the future, they can choose to leave. After reading these two articles, I felt perplexed: what environment are we creating for our next generation in this place?
To leave or to stay is, of course, a choice many have to make. If Hongkongers - especially the younger generation - no longer remain in Hong Kong and move elsewhere, then the future of Hong Kong will thus be cast. On the other hand, if we stick to this piece of land, then it is possible to change the future. Hong Kong will no longer be a “floating city”.
Of course, the reality makes us dejected. We all have our difficulties.
Since the hearing, time has rewound to the night of 8 February two years ago. Sometimes it pauses, sometimes it stops. My world reconnects with that night again, then stagnates, and I believe it will likely stay there for some time.
After four months of captivity, life isn't too bitter. I am most grateful to friends who attended hearings and wrote to me. Whenever I recall the scene in the courtroom: defense lawyers in front, familiar or unacquainted faces in the public gallery, every nod, smile and wave - these all bolstered my courage to face everything. Especially your letters. These are my only connections beyond the tall wall. These warm my heart a lot. This compassion reminds me of why I engage myself in politics.
Lives can influence lives. When I was about to give my statement to the court, I tried to trace my footsteps from the very beginning to today. I remember whom I met on the journey. From day one, the impetus pushing me to the field of politics is the pursuit of a democratic and free Hong Kong. During the course of seeking this ideal society, we have witnessed different scenes, had our own experiences and made our judgments. Regardless of how we make our choices, it is unavoidable that we encounter bumps if we want Hong Kong to become democratic. Coming to today, I don't expect others to agree with me, but I hope they have basic understanding about how an unrepresentative political system can spark the public’s anger; and how many political upheavals will be driven by failed constitutional reform. If we are staying here, the wellbeing of Hong Kong ought to be closely linked to every one of us. What is more, a democratic entity that can fully reflect public opinion should be our pursuit.
Talking about democracy or constitutional reform at this very moment may sound cliché or like asking for the moon. True, all great ideals sound ludicrous in front of a ridiculous reality. I do not deny the stark fact of the retrogression of the democratic course in Hong Kong. I just think that at the worst times, people's sense of responsibility becomes more important. We truly have a lot of things we ought to do but have not yet done.
When raising an issue in the community, support and opposition will inevitably appear. The divergence will manifest itself in different ways. By the same token, even with the ideal of making a difference in the society, social movement participants will also diverge or split due to different priorities. Before democracy is realized, perhaps we should put democracy in practice, understand all kinds of differences and cherish them. We should treat them as an opportunity to bring together a larger force. Only autocracy forbids dissenting voices.
From the turbulence in recent years, I learnt a lot of lessons that have been written down on paper. I have to thank all the people whom I met, especially my parents who brought me into this world. I think even with my entire life, I cannot repay them enough. But if I can learn today's lesson and keep striving for the future of our next generation, I believe my parents will be glad.
10 June 2018