People who say there is something to forgive and forget about June 1989 are wrong and lying, therefore kids must… forgive and forget. ‘No-one died in Tiananmen Square, and the Chinese government had to kill them for the greater good.’ I think that’s the logic of the Voice of Loving Hong Kong: mark a 25th anniversary by saying there is nothing to have an anniversary of. You almost feel sorry for the hard-working United Front coordinators who have to smile and put up with this sort of embarrassment.
It certainly puts Hong Kong’s Occupy Central civil disobedience movement into perspective. The campaign is well-meaning and idealistic – perhaps even naïve – fundamentally on the right side of history, humanity and honesty. So honest, that its leading figures are talking about standing down, and maybe cancelling plans for a mass sit-in in the central business district designed to persuade the Chinese government to grant the city a truly democratic political structure.
The Standard starts its report on this by using the word ‘supposedly’. And we can be sure legal academic Benny Tai and Baptist minister Chu Yiu-ming are hoping to inspire a bigger turnout with this promise of public self-disembowelment if fewer than 100,000 vote in the June 22 referendum-type exercise on electoral methods. And note how, on a more spiritual plain, this air of humility and self-sacrifice accentuates the contrast between this noble cause and the calculating harshness of the Communist one-party state ethos. You can imagine Gandhi smiling down on this scene, just as you can be pretty sure the United Front organizers are wondering which panic buttons to hit in response to this latest twist. China Daily declares satisfaction that Occupy Central is recognizing its failure to attract support and admitting the nihilism of its plans, but the tone is tentative and sounds like wishful thinking. Beijing’s paranoid officials have convinced themselves that Occupy Central is a major threat to something (presumably stability on the Mainland, should methodical civil disobedience techniques catch on there). So, clearly, the evil, foreign-backed opposition camp is up to something.
Since Benny Tai and friends know Beijing is scared witless, they know they have power, improbable though it may seem. And since the realists among them probably realize that a one-party state cannot by nature accommodate full universal suffrage, they see this as a game of chicken in order to secure semi-democracy rather than some semi-semi- version. A popular race between two or three stooges can’t be worse than appointment by decree of a single stooge. For what it’s worth, the overseas press will lap it up if and when the non-violent protestors are being dragged off the streets of Central – further discomforting our insecure sovereign rulers. So the main message is: Occupy Central is still on (unless no-one shows up).
It is politically correct for pro-establishment folk to go along with dire warnings of billions of dollars of damage that Occupy Central will cause. Even the Hong Kong General Chamber of Commerce – the voice of high-rent/low-wage moderation – has had to sign up to scary newspaper ads portraying the campaign as a menace to civilization. Meanwhile, prudent senior managements in critical (in all modesty) industries must go a little bit further than pretending that the protest (whatever and whenever it is) could create problems. They have to assume it really, really could, and create contingency plans accordingly. Regulators like the HK Monetary Authority offer almost-fathomable helpful guidance on things like Business Impact Analysis and Recovery Strategy Formulation, resulting in emails and bits of paper drifting like leaves in the office breeze, with deranged bits of jargon people must greet with enthusiasm, and indeed seriousness. Talking of leaves… The latest to float past talks sternly of a Call-Out Tree. Occupy Central can’t give up now – the rest of the city has put a lot of work into preparing for this.