14th August 2019 – (Hong Kong) Since the beginning of the anti-extradition protests, protesters have repetitively made their five demands to the government. Protests have since mutated into multiple forms from illegal street rallies, siege of police stations in various districts, disruption of major roads and Cross Harbour Tunnel to the latest mass occupation of airport.
It is noteworthy that the number of protesters has since June reduced from 2 million Hong Kongers during the street march where families and kids were present to only less than 100,000 people each time as street rallies became more polarised in different districts. The protests are now spread all over different districts making it difficult for average Hong Kongers to comprehend and catch-up. Many have even lost track of the number of protests that are sprouting like mushrooms. The latest protests involving use of laser pointers and burning Hell bank notes are labelled as non-sensical child’s play as they no longer reflect the true spirit of the anti-extradition fight against the government. Indeed, they are after all the creative brainchild of young people of whom Hong Kongers felt ashamed for themselves earlier.
In the beginning of the struggle, young people took it to the streets while adults were supporting them. After they started to become more aggressive and the government finally gave in partially by suspending the bill on 15th June, Hong Kongers became enlightened and touched by their sacrifice. Sceptics who never believed in these young people started to change their minds and joined them in rallies. On 19th June, almost two million people joined the young protesters in their crusade to push the government into responding to their five demands i.e.
1) the bill must be FULLY withdrawn,
2) the Chief Executive Carrie Lam must resign,
3) the government must retract the use of term ‘riots’ during violent clashes,
4) Independent inquiry commission to be set up to investigate police brutality and abuse of power,
5) to exonerate protesters who are charged.
Two months later, fewer Hong Kongers have joined the street protests as they became increasingly more violent. A new faction of high-tech flash mob protesters armed with real time critical information, google map and offensive weapons ranging from molotov cocktails, laser pointers to slingshots has taken over the streets of Hong Kong. They move so fast that even police have described them as ‘cockroaches’.
Many violent footage of protesters causing harm and destruction were shared on social media. On the other hand, there were also equally many footage showing police violence and police officers who worked in cahoots with triads during the Yuen Long incident on 21st July and more recently in the North Point and Tsuen Wan attacks. Hence, two wrongs don’t make a right.
As a result, most Hong Kongers have been spooked by the violence inflicted by both the student protesters and police. An average Joe with family who has a stable job will not risk his life to take to the streets in the current civil unrest. Meanwhile, the young radical protesters have been in the game since day one and they are still in the game. The difference is, they have become more sophisticated and immune to arrests and retaliation from police. This could be due to the fact that young people were treating the clashes as a form of real-life war game as most kids are addicted to online games in Hong Kong.
Many have attributed the cause also to the widespread anger amongst the young people. These disillusioned student protesters have been deprived of owning a home from the moment they graduated from university. The anti-extradition bill was just a trigger as it was highly unlikely that any of these young students were planning to be become a fugitive in the future.
As police continued to retaliate with more force in each clash, the anger turned into outrage because they were determined to win this ‘war game’ against the police.
After months of deepening civil unrest, let us re-examine the relevance of the five demands again:
1.The bill must be FULLY withdrawn
The government has suspended the the bill indefinitely and they have stubbornly refused to use the word ‘WITHDRAW’. Regardless of whether it was a pride issue for Beijing Government, we think that the bill is as good as dead. If Legislative Council were to make a slight attempt to push it through, protesters would probably detonate the whole Legislative Council building and destroy Hong Kong.
2) The Chief Executive Carrie Lam must resign
As the Chief Executive is merely a symbolic figure, anyone who takes over this hot seat will also be a puppet for the Beijing Government. However, if Hong Kongers have lost faith in Carrie Lam, it is probably in the best interest of the people for the Beijing Government to take a step back and replace her. There could be other unexplained reasons why Carrie Lam is still supported fully but whatever the grounds are, Beijing Government should remove her in order for them to be vindicated.
3) The government must retract the use of term ‘riots’ during violent clashes
After weeks of violent clashes, the use of the term ‘riots’ seems to be exemplary as massive disruptions have been caused in the city by radical protesters. This demand should be fully withdrawn by protesters instead.
4) Independent inquiry commission to be set up to investigate police brutality and abuse of power
Many incriminating evidence has shown police engaging in abuse of power and use of excessive power. In order to restore confidence in the police force, government should indeed set up an independent inquiry commission to investigate the hundreds accusations to appease the people.
5) To exonerate protesters who are charged
This is a tough request as most people will agree by now that some of the radical protesters have caused severe harm and damages not just to properties and the police force but they have also created grave inconvenience and dangers to other civilians by disruption train services and roads. The rule of law must be upheld and the perpetrators must be brought to justice.
The protesters should perhaps re-look into their five demands again as circumstances have changed to their disadvantage. Both parties should compromise to reach an understanding so that Hong Kong will not lose its spot as a world-class safe city.