- In a Year of the Pig where change has been foretold, the sight of hundreds of thousands on the streets brings home the message that mainland encroachment on Hong Kong’s way of life is real and unlikely to be reversed
Feng shui, like religion, is not something I’ve ever taken too seriously. But in the midst of the Year of the Pig, which is said to be about changes, I’m starting to be a believer.
In mere months, all that is wrong with Hong Kong has been exposed and laid bare, that most politically incorrect of terms – creeping mainlandisation – to blame. There’s a hard reality for those anti-government protesters: try as you might, there’s no turning back.
A wild boar on a Kennedy Town street put it all into perspective for me. It may seem a simple enough event; Hong Kong’s development is encroaching on habitats and it’s inevitable that these creatures will seek out new food sources.
But the animal was as unfamiliar with its surroundings as people were startled to see it and a fracas erupted when it went into a subway station. In the scuffle, it got wounded and a woman was hurt. Using feng shui and throwing in some Cantonese slang gives this a highly symbolic meaning.
Nor is a bleeding boar good, in part because African swine fever is rife, but mainly due to this being a pig year.
Put the event and where it took place together, throw in the political crisis, and the government and our highest officials are exposed for what they are – arrogant and out of touch. Hospitals have also been called out, whether it is refusing to take injured protesters or giving sensitive patient data to police and allowing them to go into wards and make bedside arrests.
Hong Kong’s police have always treated me, a blind person, with utmost friendliness, courtesy and, in moments of need, help. But on June 14, two days after the Admiralty violence, with the city on edge, and five days before the boar went in search of a downtown meal, I was stopped by an officer in the North Point subway station.
He asked me where I was going, escorted me to the platform and took a good look at my white cane. Middle-aged visually impaired white men did not feature in the violence, nor would I believe a 300-gram aluminium cane would prove much of a weapon. The officer was only doing his duty, but the experience has altered my perception of the force that has long prided itself on being known as “Asia’s finest”.
Journalists, the upholders of clean and honest government, have also been repeatedly disrespected by authorities. The extradition bill that started all the fuss has been
put on hold, not scrapped, meaning it can be slipped into law any time, much like the granting of harbourfront land for a pier to the People’s Liberation Army that was pushed through without discussion. (Wasn’t the entire harbourfront supposed to be set aside for the enjoyment of the people for uninterrupted cycling and jogging tracks and the like?)
Let’s not even go into the government’s inept response to the biggest protests this city has experienced, and the downplaying of numbers as if they don’t matter. And it’s not just the youngsters of this city who are angry, but a wide cross-section of society.
Truth be told, we knew all this, and that it would happen. We just didn’t think authorities were so dumb that they would be so blatant. Those who thought July 1, 1997, marked the start of mainland China’s shift to becoming more like Hong Kong have time and again been shown that they are wrong.
We have to give up our thoughts of autonomy and being different and get used to the idea of increasing mainlandisation. The past month of protests are not a game changer, but a reality check.
Peter Kammerer is a senior writer at the Post
#RobertReview (Hong Kong Protests): 9 | 10
Published: 5th July 2019.