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Legislator Alvin Yeung

2020-01-05
Dear whom is listening to this, 
 
As a Member of the Legislative Council, I’m deeply honoured to speak to you today on the first Sunday of the year 2020. 
 
In a normal year, we would have started this with a hopeful outlook of the new year, a joyous celebration of a fresh start; but then, I guess we can’t pretend anymore, we are not in an ordinary time.  I want to begin with a eulogy, a eulogy for our brothers and sisters who have left us too early, too soon in the last year.  We might not be related by blood, but we’re connected by a natural affinity by calling the same city home, and having a common vision for our city, that is a free, equal, and just Hong Kong.
 
I recall the names of Marco Leung Ling Kit, who jumped from the rooftop of the Pacific Place mall on 15th June and sealed the idea of unfulfilled justice onto us with his sacrifice; Alex Chow Tsz Lok, one of the brave youth who participated in our fight for freedom and mysteriously fell to his death on 4th November, what happened that night still to be investigated. There are some more others who shared a similar tragic fate, but left us without being named.  Today we mourn for their untimely departure – it’s indeed a privilege you and I are still alive and well today, but their story came to an abrupt end, and will never resume.
 
The past year filled our hearts with the weighty heaviness of the price of liberty.  Many of us were injured, jailed, or otherwise suffered irreversible damage in recent turmoil.  The year 2019 will go down in the history of our city as a fateful year.  This was the year our lives turned around and could never be the same again.  Freedom is a bygone normality we don’t feel its profound significance when it exists, like oxygen we rely to live on, but the void of it makes us feel terrible.
 
Last week, the Chief Secretary sat in this studio and read his letter to Hong Kong.  He cited the 8,000 petrol bombs found on the campus of the Polytechnic University and indicated his disapproval.  He thought vandalism on the streets and on transport infrastructure was alarming.  Here are some more interesting figures to share with you.  As of 31st December last year, the police fired over 16,000 tear gas cans, over 10,000 rubber bullets, over 2,000 bean bag rounds, close to 1,900 sponge grenades and quite some many live rounds at protesters.  Also, close to 6,500 protesters were arrested, more than 1,000 charged, and we don’t have the exact number of people who participated in the protests gone missing or even found dead.  Perhaps the most startling of all is that as of today, zero police officer involved in gross abuse has been investigated for their misconduct, also zero top official has been held accountable for the political crisis spun out of their massive mistake.
 
I appreciate the Chief Secretary’s passionate defence for the rule of law and civil liberties being the most cherished core values in Hong Kong, but the reality, as we know, is that the present government is precisely the greatest threat to these core values.  Just last Wednesday, the first day of the new year, more than one million citizens marched on the streets in protest of police brutality and call for universal suffrage.  The marchers were peaceful and civil.  People were just chanting slogans and waving protest signs.  At around 5:15pm that day, the government issued a statement acknowledging the demonstration and appealed demonstrators to leave after the march.  In fact, that was only halfway into the march, the starting point in Victoria Park was still heavily congested with marchers flooding into the park.  Just a couple minutes after the statement was released, the police forced the organisers to call off the demonstration and ordered everyone to disperse within 30 minutes.  We’re talking about a million people there and they had very little time to leave.  Then it’s tear gas and water cannons all over again.  Mass arrests and more police violence followed.  This is the real face of the government in response to peaceful demonstration, intolerance and brutality all the same.
 
As a matter of fact, the Chief Secretary probably understands the irony of the government’s statement, that the administration which he’s part of is the cause of the problem, that our liberties are deteriorating under ideological pressure, that the government is practically conducting a wide political purge; but he failed to tell the truth.  It’s worth remembering he tried to apologise on behalf of the police for their dereliction of duty when white-clad gangsters attacked innocent train passengers in Yuen Long on 21st July last year.  Many Hong Kong people believe that was state-sponsored mob violence with tacit assent from the police.  His apology was immediately met with open backlash from frontline police officers who probably were responsible. Wasn’t it ridiculous. 
 
We are at odds with an opponent that is more than a cabinet of officials.  It is a leviathan of totalitarianism we are trying to resist.  We learn from many people working not only in the government, but in the private sector as well, that it’s no longer safe to openly criticise the government, the price for doing so might be losing their jobs.  The Secretary for Education, for example, confirmed last Sunday 13 teachers in local schools have been reprimanded for what he calls hate speech and expressing inciting views.  What these teachers did was criticising the police and the government for their treatment of protesters.  The Secretary for Education made clear the Education Bureau could remove school principals if they display what the Bureau thinks is problematic attitude, such as if a school principal does not take disciplinary action against teachers whom the government doesn’t like.
 
The enactment of an emergency mask ban follows this logic, as it serves as a disincentive to civic engagement.  There is immense pressure on corporate C-suites in Hong Kong to penalise employees who demonstrate dissenting views from official rhetoric.  We have airline cabin crews dismissed for criticising the government.  Some of them did so in private and were fired nonetheless.  Clearly, someone in their private circles tipped off the management.  The regime is actively fostering an environment of mutual spying among citizens with a goal to silence all opposition.  The most apparent effect of such network of unofficial informants is that our free speech further shrinks, but I think the greater and more disastrous implication of it is that it’s destroying trust and respect in our community.  No one really benefits from this culture when we can’t trust our colleagues and friends.  It’s an environment void of love we certainly don’t want our next generation to grow up in.
 
This is why we can’t back down easily.  We continue to demand government accountability, justice, and democracy.  We continue to demand the government to fulfil all five demands Hong Kong citizens made.  I’m not Christian, but there was this Bible verse that always struck me at the heart.  It’s a quote from Jesus Christ in John 8:32, he said, “And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”  On this first Sunday of year 2020, I wish all of you strength, courage, wisdom and kindness, so that we will prevail over all kinds of challenges ahead, and that the truth will win, and one day we will celebrate our freedom.
 

Letter To Hong Kong

                                                               
Leaders from Hong Kong's political parties and government departments take their turn to have their say.


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