Sat, Oct 11, 2014 - Page 8 News List

HK protests a peaceful revolution

By Paul Lin 林保華

Hong Kong’s “umbrella movement” has had such a great momentum. Indeed, the movement has surpassed any previous large-scale street demonstration in Hong Kong or Taiwan.

First, it has not been the case that the majority of protesters are just there during the daytime, going home to bed at night. They have continued their protest through the night. Second, they have paralyzed transportation and interfered with business activity, placing the government under intense pressure. Third, despite being exposed to tear gas and pepper spray by police, they have learned to adopt guerrilla tactics, dispersing only to return when the coast is clear.

However, in Taiwan, no matter how big a protest is, it usually ends on time, and the government does not feel any pressure after hearing the protesters’ demands. For the large protest on April 27, tens of thousands of people attended it during the daytime, but only several hundred stayed throughout the night, so they were easily removed by police.

After Zhongxiao W Road in downtown Taipei was paralyzed for a few hours, both the public and media complained about the inconvenience it caused. If the Taiwanese are unwilling to pay the price to strive for democracy and safeguard the nation’s sovereignty, what hope does the country have?

When the “Occupy Central” campaign was in its initial preparation stages, Hong Kong’s youth were greatly envious of Taiwan’s Sunflower movement. However, the former has since surpassed the latter. Hong Kong’s students have emphasized that this is a “movement,” not a “revolution.”

In my opinion, this is exactly that: A revolution, albeit peaceful, rational and non-violent. Their attempt to turn the election of the chief executive by a small group of people into an election by “universal suffrage” is a revolution of the system.

The UK underwent the Glorious Revolution of 1688, in which King James II was overthrown, and Taiwan has undergone its own, the Quiet Revolution, which brought democracy to the nation. A revolution is not necessarily a violent and bloody event: This all depends on how those in power react.

According to their old thinking, both the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and Hong Kong Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying (梁振英) believe that there must be adult activists behind the student protesters. However, the truth is adult activists have been marginalized this time.

At the beginning, some senior figures of the democratic camp complained that the student protesters did not inform them before occupying Citizens’ Square. Then the three initiators of the Occupy Central campaign officially launched the event to show their support for student protesters, but they were misunderstood by some students, who thought they were trying to claim the credit. A Legislative Council member even knelt down to beg student protesters not to leave, so as to maintain the unity of the movement.

Luckily, most student protesters are not self-obsessed. After police released Scholarism (學民思潮) convener Joshua Wong (黃之鋒), who was on the cover of the latest Time magazine, some praised Wong, saying that Hong Kong’s future depended on him, but he was humble enough to disagree with such remarks. Hong Kong Federation of Students (HKFS) secretary-general Alex Chow (周永康) has said that the fate of Hong Kong’s autonomy is actually the fate of every Hong Konger’s autonomy.

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