Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Fighting for Fragrant Harbour

I went through some old photos a few days past and saw one picture in particular that made me reminisce a past I didn’t know I had. It was picture of my father standing in front of an old sign that had been there before he was born. It reminded me of my origin and my father’s, and his father before him, 花園街 (Fa Yuen St)  was home to our family. It was a slice of HK which our family had occupied for over half a century. My father was born in an apartment right on that street just next to the billboard sign towering over the pedestrian walk. 八珍甜醋 (Pat Chun) was a company started in 花園街 over 70 years ago by a man named 伍森 (Sam Ng). The same sign stood when my grandfather would come back from work everyday dirt poor, to the day he came home with his first fortune, the same sign that my father saw everyday coming back from school, to the day he brought me back home for the first time.

I passed by a convenience store in 旺角 (Mong Kok) a year or so ago with my dad. I distinctly remember that afternoon. I was supposed to meet up with my friends Enoch and Jacky. The clerk yelled. "成哥!" he was looking at me but was referring to my dad's name. He was the son of the the owner of the store when my father was just a boy. My dad bearably recognized this man, they were of similar age though. They made small talks, and apparently he'd inherited the custodianship from his father and he plans to leave it for his kids. He had recognized my father and I walk by. That somehow this man whom I don’t know was able to pick my dad and I out from the crowd in a 17 year gap and he felt like a friend to me just sounds bizarre. Some exchanges later, it left us with a warm feeling we could almost taste. Maybe that’s what 人情味 tastes like.

That was the summer of 2013, a week ago we see this man and other people whom my dad and grandparents recognize on TV here in Vancouver. They were reporting about the HK pro-democracy protests and how the occupy situation affected local businesses in MK. They couldn’t care about the cause at all. All they wanted was for things to go back to normal. If there’s a fight worth fighting then who I am I to stop anyone, and of course there’s no change without some sacrifices. I am talking about the pro-democracy protests happening right now in Hong Kong. There is a politically fueled war on ideals and governance with no clear rights and wrongs, some may argue otherwise. The government abuses the guise of lawful authority to sunder the movement, others call this oppression and the truth is only time will tell the difference, but for now, the people do battle on the streets and the people of Hong Kong are paying and sacrificing for both sides and for both causes.

There is no distinction between the factions as far who’s paying for it. This isn’t a civil war, there’s no north and no south this time. The people of Hong Kong are paying government taxes to oppress them on the very same streets that the demonstrators are locking down. The same streets that people live during the day and destroy at night. This conflict is fundamentally divisive at the local level. It’s stratifying the society making people turn on each other. Maybe the plan is to make people so fed up with the protests, they becoming protesters themselves. Hatred breeding more hatred maybe? I don't know if that’s happening, or if people are just ignoring it and moving on. The latter is my guess.

No matter the outcome and resolution, the government must share this blame, if not be completely responsible for it. They are the authority tasked with competent governance. They have clearly failed at that task, they have allowed these battles to rage on the streets of Hong Kong, uncontrolled and unresolved, and they have failed the best interest of the people they were supposed to serve and let these conflicts damage the livelihood and overall economy of HK. Forget about maintaining the public trust, that dream was shattered long ago and it was inaction that shattered it. It’s not an opinion or me justifying the pro-democracy protests, it’s an opinion on a stale and incompetent organization still pretending everything is okay. There is no doubt the causes for these rally is a politically motivated attempt on loosening the grasp of the Chinese Communist Party hold on HK autonomy. That's a different can of worms requiring greater considerations beyond just the law in HK and is entirely political. Governance and politics are not the same thing, at least not in theory. These protests exposed real problems in effects of governance and their failure to respond proportionally. It makes me sad these peaceful protests derailed into something as disruptive as they are. Maybe every great battle deserves its glory and sacrifices, but are we all ready to pay that price, are we ready to turn on each other? Where is the 人情味 in that?

If you're interested to know more. Wikipedia is an excellent resource which could be accessed here.