This post is in response to a news article here.
Image credit: Vincent Yu/Associated Press
Alas; it saddened me when I read this piece during my daily reading of the NYT articles.
First things first, I’d like to give kudos to Lam Wing-kee, who, despite knowing his doing so would put himself under immense danger from the mainland, still chose to stand up for himself — and by extension for the justice Hong Kong people righteously deserve — and tell the truth about what exactly had happened during his abrupt disappearance from Hong Kong.
While I understand why Mr. Lam’s colleagues and girlfriend decided to refute his whistle-blowing — that was nothing but a well-calculated move under the great pressure from the powers-that-be — it is nevertheless painful to see that they cannot — or perhaps dare not — tell the truth to the public. The fact that they are booksellers, be it regular books or materials deemed sensitive for the mainland, makes this case all the more relevant and significant. I believe it is part of booksellers’ responsibility to spread knowledge to the masses without fearing sabotage. With a bullying, all-mighty China, however, that mission seems to be nothing but a tall order. I wonder what will befall Mr. Lam afterwards, but I certainly hope he’ll remain safe and free to speak up; more importantly, I hope this will serve as a wake-up call to all Hong Kongers. Without sticking to their guns, they’d run the risk of losing the very last vestiges of their autonomy altogether soon. Now, exactly how they can do that without putting their own lives and the lives of their loved ones in peril, that’s the question. Nevertheless, they should by no means do nothing and simply see their once-touted freedom be completely ripped off by the Big Brother.
For us Taiwanese, this is an equally worrisome episode. Though being granted a special administrative region status in 1997 by China, Hong Kong, as we’ve observed, has been on a trajectory of going downwards in terms of freedom and democracy. The so-called “one country, two systems,” under which Hong Kong was allowed to retain a large degree of political autonomy, simply doesn’t hold water. The international community has witnessed the Umbrella Revolution, yet little if nothing at all seems to have come of it.
It is well known to all Taiwanese that China has relentlessly been trying to apply the same “one country, two systems” formula to Taiwan. If they’ve been trying to use the Hong Kong experience to win our hearts, they’ve been doing it all wrong. Considering the Taiwan’s proximity to Hong Kong, little wonder why we Taiwanese remain wary of the political development over there. There’s a popular saying in Taiwan that sums up the mentality and the sympathy we have for Hong Kong, which goes “今日香港，明日台灣,” which literally means “Today Hong Kong, tomorrow Taiwan,” or “what happens in Hong Kong will happen in Taiwan tomorrow” in natural English. However, the reverse can also be true: One can argue that the Umbrella Revolution might have been partly inspired by a similar movement known as the Sunflower Movement in Taiwan that took place about 6 months earlier. With Cai Ying-wen becoming our new president, I am cautiously optimistic about the cross-strait development.
For the time being, let’s just hope that Mr. Lam will somehow manage to come out of it unharmed.
God bless Lam Wing-kee; God bless Hong Kong.