I can’t speak for the rest of you in Hong Kong, obviously, but enough is enough.
That said there have been some real positives to come out of the revolting students (yes, I know, read it how you want!!) – or civilly disobedient – or even legally wrong. But, for example, I can’t remember the last time I actually heard birds singing in Chater Gardens during the day: coughing maybe, but singing?
The lack of traffic in Central suggests we should have more pedestrianised areas – especially if it stops drivers clogging up the road by double parking outside the Prince’s Building and creating misery for the general population. And there is something liberating about walking down the middle of the road from my office next to the Police Headquarters into Central. Thankfully it’s not too hot – or wet.
In terms of The Light, the students seem to have set an example by way of being environmentally friendly (in general), and that together with the lack of roadside pollution means they have achieved more for the environment in a week than the Government has achieved in 20 years.
And one more in the series of Light things is the fact that until now the general public have shown remarkable tolerance and sorry to those who want to bash them, but the police have been outstanding in their general restraint Yes the use of pepper spray and tear gas took place – but honestly, look around at other cities in the world and ask yourself if the tolerance levels would have been so high. Thank goodness this was not a demonstration in Ferguson, Missouri, USA – and the Occupy Wall Street movement got pretty short shrift. Demonstrations elsewhere in the world are often brutally broken up by the police. But here we are, 10 days on, and peace reigns.
The Dark is not so pretty. The students – who you will remember do not contribute to society by way of work or taxes – are claiming they have a right to demonstrate. That’s fine by me. But the taxi drivers, and the small businesses, and the office workers also have rights – don’t they? Who is protecting their business rights, and if as a result they go out of business will the students give any consideration to their predicament. This is not a one-way street. Everyone has some rights, but the student view is that they have a 100% monopoly on demonstrating. This shows a lack of both maturity and of understanding the world in which once they graduate, they are going to enter.
And the Dark has now entered a rather interesting new phase. Two new phases actually. The first consists of those who once again are prepared to write Hong Kong off; I heard today of a major firm expressing the view that for them Hong Kong is finished. Final straw. Sort of in support of the “lame duck” comment that I used in my last Blog perhaps. Also the news headlines (yet again) saying “Hong Kong Will Never Be The Same”. Frankly, no dynamic city in the world should ever be the same. Everywhere evolves, changes, moves one way or the other.
But the other new big Dark is now surely going to centre on the revelations today that Hong Kong’s Chief Executive may have been the recipient of some previously undisclosed payments from an overseas company. You know, whatever the truth in this particular matter is, I am pretty sure that it will be blown up to the extent that legal or not, C Y Leung will face calls to step down. If they don’t come from Hong Kong they may well come from China. President Xi Jinping has made very clear his abhorrence of corruption and if there is the slightest unpleasant smell about this, what better way than to remove an unpopular official?
How neat is that? The departure will not have been the result of student pressure, which would have been wrong anyway, and should see the temporary installation of an altogether more popular person in the shape of Carrie Lam.
And so to the Long Term.
I am sure that students, at age 17, 18, 19 will believe that anyone over the age of 33 is already ancient. But in 33 years time when they are in their early 50s and hopefully still in the prime of their lives, the privileges that Hong Kong has largely enjoyed under One Country, Two Systems will be subsumed into One Country, One System. And like it or not, from that moment on what China says –goes! And China has a long memory for names and faces.
If the students real concern is about jobs, the cost of housing, and the environment – then I would more easily understand their frustration. But to hide under this notion that this is all about democracy and freedom – look around. As a letter in yesterday’s newspaper so correctly reminded us, even the admired (I think!) British parliamentary system requires candidates to be vetted before they are put forward for possible election.
We live in a world that is driven by short-termism which, at a time when people are living longer and when decisions are being taken hastily and with insufficient thought to the future, is rather bizarre.
Our students have made their point. It is now time though for others who also have rights to be allowed to get on with their lives and make an unhindered living for their families … although I do like the pedestrianisation and cleaner air!!