• First conceived as a localist election slogan in 2016, ‘Liberate Hong Kong; revolution of our times’ took a while to resonate fully with discontented residents.
  • Now the rallying cry has become the most commonly heard chant in the city amid anti-government protests.
Edward Leung Tin-kei  Chinese - 梁天琦.jpg

Edward Leung Tin-kei (Chinese: 梁天琦).

When pro-independence activist Edward Leung Tin-kei first declared his election slogan “Liberate Hong Kong; revolution of our times” in 2016, not many could relate to it, let alone understand what it meant.

But over the past week, the rallying cry of the now-jailed student leader has become the most commonly heard chant in the city as long-running protests against the extradition bill have morphed into a full-blown anti-government movement.

‘Liberate Hong Kong; revolution of our times’ spray-painted on a wall at Western Police Station. Photo Edmond So.jpg

‘Liberate Hong Kong; revolution of our times’ spray-painted on a wall at Western Police Station. Photo: Edmond So

Graffiti reading “Liberate Hong Kong. Revolution of our time” is seen on a wall of posters in the Sheung Wan district. Photo K.Y. Cheng

Graffiti reading “Liberate Hong Kong. Revolution of our time” is seen on a wall of posters in the Sheung Wan district. Photo K.Y. Cheng

2. Free Hong Kong - photo by Sam Tsang

Free Hong Kong. Photo by Sam Tsang.

The slogan’s growing resonance prompted the city’s leader Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor to cite it on Monday as solid proof the nature of the movement had changed. She mentioned the slogans twice in her media conference, her first in two weeks.

Leung, then the spokesman of pro-independence group Hong Kong Indigenous, had once revealed in a rally that in crafting the slogan he had been struggling between “Revolution of the generation” and “Revolution of our times” but eventually opted for the latter as his election slogan for the legislature in a 2016 by-election.

“An era is not categorised by one’s age. Even if you are old, you would belong to a new era as long as you believe in and embrace freedoms. But you would be in the old era if you can’t get rid of the old framework, even if you are very young,” he declared.

Leung, now serving a six-year jail term over his role in the 2016 Mong Kok riot, said he was representing an era of people who were willing to use their “blood and sweat” to fight for their freedoms.

A 28-year-old protester at a Sha Tin rally on Monday, who only gave her surname Yeung, said she could not relate to Leung’s slogan back then as she had no idea what precisely “Liberate Hong Kong” meant – until now.

“The government is so skewed and there is also collusion between the police and the triads,” she said, making the allegation based on an incident in Yuen Long on July 21 when police failed to show up in time (39 minute delay) to stop a mob from indiscriminately attacking passengers and protesters.

“We need to stand up to liberate Hong Kong – solely because we are Hongkongers who love the city very much.”

Political scientist Dr Ma Ngok, of Chinese University, said the slogan itself was vague and open to different interpretations.

He said people opted for the term “revolution” because they felt Lam’s administration had already lost its moral basis to govern. Some also felt they were indebted to Leung because of his jail term, as well as those protesters who were charged with rioting over recent protests, he added.

Matthew Chung, a 29-year-old who runs a music company, said they shouted the slogan because they wanted to revive the Hong Kong spirit and call for freedom and democracy.

Andrew Fung Ho-keung, chief executive of the Hong Kong Policy Research Institute, said Beijing would probably view the slogan as an alarming signal of a growing trend of independence advocacy in the city.

Fung said Lam should tell the central government how to address the current crisis, instead of just pointing fingers at a handful of radicals.


‘Liberate Hong Kong; revolution of our times’: Who came up with this protest chant and why is the government worried?

#RobertReview (Hong Kong Protests): 8.5 | 10

“Liberate Hong Kong. Revolution of our times.” The Writing Is On The Wall for Hong Kong.

#光復香港时代革命 (Traditional Chinese)
#光復香港時代革命  (Simplified Chinese)

Published: 6th August 2019.
Updated: 10th August 2019.


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