Opinion | Hong Kong has lost its innocence
By Philip Yeung, university teacher
Hong Kong has lost its innocence. Politics has killed it. Polarization has buried it. For proof, look no further than the row that has been rumbling over "To my 19-year-old self". There are political undercurrents to this film that looks at a Hong Kong turned upside down by a senseless fight over electoral reform.
We are all losers in this lost decade, including the 47 defendants in the upcoming trial over their National Security offences. No one is a winner. We have all lost friendships and family relationships---even our nearest and dearest are no longer on speaking terms, being on opposite sides of the political divide.
Western media, to no one's surprise, is painting this trial as the destruction of civil society in Hong Kong. While our civility may not be as robust as before, but that is because it has already been rubbished by the anarchists.
I see a parallel between this mass trial and the trials of the rioters in the US Capitol. Both were advocating the overthrow of the government by violent means. Yet no one has accused the US government of trampling on the rights of the Capitol rioters. Why the double standards? Why is it justice in the US but injustice in Hong Kong? Isn't the fundamental tenet of democracy that "no one is above the law", whether in Hong Kong or Washington, whether you are American-aided or Trump-inspired?
Speaking of the rule of law, I thought we were supposed to have "One Country Two Systems". But American-instigated activists went overboard to tell Beijing how to run its affairs, calling for the downfall of the government and the party. Booksellers sold books that brazenly slandered the national leaders. They broke the law and showed no respect for Chinese sovereignty. For subversives, there were two systems, with one dictating to the other but not vice versa. One Country might as well not exist. From 2014 to 2019, it was open season on Beijing. They rampaged with impunity. They demanded impunity. They wanted to have the cake and eat it too. Their total freedom turned into our total chaos. Can any civil society condone this? Would America have let its rioters rampage for 10 months?
Another silent victim is the Hong Kong police—who behaved like gentlemen in the face of hooligans hurling insults and Molotov cocktails. In the US, nearly 1200 citizens died of police brutality, more than the total number of people killed in mass shootings last year. Here, there has not been a single fatality. There are strict rules governing the use of firearms by police officers. They helplessly hoisted warning signs to try to keep rioters at bay---a highly civilized practice unique to Hong Kong. And yet, local officers are doxxed as rogue cops.
Rioters ran Hong Kong to the ground for nearly a year. They owned the streets, attacking mainlanders and shopkeepers. Do I feel sorry that they are hauled before the courts? "No". It is sweet karma. Trouble-makers are finally getting a dose of reality.
Are we still a civil society, free to criticize our government? You bet. I, for one, feel no fear in taking the local government to task on its shortcomings in handling livelihood issues. I pull no punches. I call a spade a spade. But true to the spirit and letter of the Basic Law, I adhere to One Country Two Systems, giving to Caesar what belongs to Caesar. I don't second-guess mainland or national leaders or barking for the downfall of the Communist Party—they are enough Americans and their lap dogs doing that. I keep my focus local. Our duty is to make our beloved Hong Kong a better place. But we don't need to bark at Beijing or shout at Shanghai. We enjoy the best of both worlds. But if you play with fire, be prepared to get burned. Uncle Sam is not your savior or firefighter. He is more like the arch arsonist.
The views do not necessarily reflect those of DotDotNews.
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