2nd July 2019 – A media reporter , Kris Ching, who was present during the occupation of the Legislative Council building last night penned an incredibly touching article which alleged that the current political regime bullies the younger ones in our society. He captured all the tense moments and witnessed how the young protestors stayed united until the last defence before the police dispersed them.
Below is the full excerpt from his article on social media:
I was one of the reporters who were present at The Legislative Council building. While I was writing this article, government just announced that they would meet media reporters at 4am. It was not difficult to imagine that all the young protestors would be labelled as lawless violent thugs due to what they have done.
I am writing to reflect on what I have witnessed during the entire ordeal and hence to give a different perspective based on my observations:
- At around 9pm, the main door of Legislative Council building was forced open. While I was walking through the main entrance, I could smell a strong stench of bad eggs and the whole floor was scattered with shattered glass and debris. The young protestors together with reporters entered the building and ascended to first floor.
- The main chamber and conference rooms are located on the first floor of Legislative Council Building, there is also an area with sofas for members to rest. Some young protestors then took a rest on the sofas while the walls were full of vandalised. There was a cabinet filled will valuable cultural relics. A protestor stopped others from touching them and shouted ‘ Don’t touch them! We are here to occupy and not to destroy!’ The protestor who was scolded responded by saying,’ I thought this object is broken…’ and he was again reprimanded, ‘Someone must have broken it! We should not touch nor destroy these items!’
- Moments later, I returned to the foyer and saw four letters written on four pieces of papers i.e. ‘ DO NOT DESTROY!’. The cultural relics on the shelf were not broken at all. The same situation also happened at the restaurant downstairs. The protestors took drinks from the fridge but they left money inside it.
- Inside the chamber, there were not many people, most of them were reporters and members of Legislative Council. Fernando Cheung Chiu-hung, the vice-chairman of the Labour Party was present during the entire occupation. In the live broadcast, viewers must be shocked to see the walls being vandalised while behind the camera, whenever an object was dropped on the ground, someone would immediately shout ‘Do not damage anything!’
- Only the portraits of present President of Legislative Council, Andrew Leung, Jasper Tsang, the 2nd President of the Legislative Council from 2008 to 2016 and Rita Fan, first President of the Legislative Council from 1998 to 2008 were removed while the words ‘YOU ASK FOR IT’ were written on the wall. The protestors left untouched the portraits of Andrew Wong Wang Fat OBE, JP, the last president of the Legislative Council and Sir John Joseph Swaine, CBE, QC, JP, the President of the Legislative Council of Hong Kong from 1993 to 1995 during British rule.
- As midnight approached, there was heated discussion as to whether protestors should continue to occupy or leave the Legislative Council Building. Some of them suggested that they should emulate Sunflower Student Movement in Taiwan and a few proposed to stay on as long as they could arrange basic survival supplies. A few even asked, ‘Is any IT guy here who can switch on the mic in the control room?’
- They were not frightened. When someone shouted ‘police!’, everyone would run frantically and later calmed down.
- Whenever the discussion reached a deadlock, a protestor would remove his mask and shout: ‘We have no where to retreat!’ ‘If we retreat, we will become violent thugs as described by CCTVB!’ ‘We are not afraid to be arrested!’ ‘The civil society will go backwards at least for 10 years’. The protestor then called upon all protestors to stay while the rest applauded. Some constantly reminded him to wear his mask to prevent his identity from being exposed. He then replied, ‘ I removed my mask because I cannot retreat further, we cannot lose this game.’
- For a similar Sunflower Student Movement to succeed, a protestors then said that they would need the support of Legislative Council members. After consulting some of them who were present, he felt that they would not help the protestors because they cared more about their votes. The discussion went on for a few rounds without reaching an unanimous decision.
- The final conclusion was reached i.e. 12am would be the deadline for a complete retreat. Some protestors outside the building also negotiated with the police. Only a few of them would stay while everyone would leave. Those who wanted to stay were prepared to be arrested and they even took off their masks for media reporters to interview.
- Someone then shouted again, ‘If we leave, we leave together!’ ‘We should not leave anyone behind to be arrested!’
- At the same time, some protestors came through from the back door and warned that police were getting ready to disperse them. Many of them started to evacuate the main chamber leaving only those who were prepared to be arrested.
- 10 minutes before midnight, tens of protestors suddenly returned to the chamber and dragged the remaining four who wanted to be arrested out from the building. A news reporter captured the incident on film.
- Police started to fire rounds of tear gas even though most protestors have vacated the building. Most of them already retreated to Tim Mei Avenue which was full of tear gas. A female protestor then stuff a lemon slice into my mouth ( I didn’t even know that lemon could neutralise tear gas before this).
- Pro-democracy members and Roy Kwong were seen speaking to the riot police with a portable handy speaker. They begged the police not to use excessive force against the protestors. Alvin Yeung, Leader of the Civic Party and member of the Legislative Council of Hong Kong was also there to direct protestors to take MTR immediately. Au Nok-hin, a pro-democracy politician and a member of the Legislative Council was also at the scene to help protestors to leave.
- Riot police started to march forward slowly to disperse the protestors, they asked reporters from time to time if they needed water.
The was my observation during the whole night yesterday. Were they really violent or lawless? What was the real reason behind their violent actions? We can all analyse and deduce our own conclusions.
The following is my objective analysis:
They committed crimes by damaging the Legislative Council Building. However, they did not intentionally destroy anything. Whatever they have destroyed or damaged is to show their dissatisfaction towards a tyrannical political system. Many people would condemn their actions, they will tell them that there are always alternative methods to get their voices heard. To them, this was the last route to fight for their demands. Even if there were an alternative route, it would be a more savage one. No one would do this for fun. They were not influenced to trespass on the Legislative Council Building. If you have listened to their conversation, you will understand that they have actually thought through the process meticulously, it may be unpolished or incomplete, but you could tell that they were not incited. Before scorning or condemning them, let us consider first, why would a civilised city like Hong Kong compel the younger generation to almost lose their sanity? and even forced a few to sacrifice their lives? In their eyes, they had no more hope for the government. From peaceful protests to use of violence, they have done everything they could and the government still continued to ignore their demands. The government does not have mercy. It is aware of what’s going on but it still chooses to keep mum. Not only will this make the young people more aggrieved but they will be pushed to their limits. Rational adults like us would not have done what they did.
The youths finally occupied the Legislative Council Building and eventually the government spoke at 4am when everyone was asleep. The government officials again played on words, avoided the protestors’ demands and condemned the violent and ‘lawless’ protest.
What kind of political regime would hide behind the ‘rule of law’ veil? The government is well aware that the continuous friction between police and young people would create more conflicts and vengeance. The government is willing to use this hostility between the police and the young protestors as bargaining chip to extend its shelf life.
To young people, freedom, basic human rights, democracy, rule of law and civil society are the most precious things they fight for. Some people will mock them and tell them that their minds are polluted by books. However, if you think carefully, every generation strives for different objectives. The last generation only wanted to work hard for money to improve their lives. Meanwhile, the younger generation would naturally have more desires and hopes as their environment becomes better. This is how a society improves. While they were fighting for their dreams, the older generation relentless condemned their actions and regarded them as failures. By doing this, the older generation is preventing the society from improving.
I don’t see a single protestor who is violent tonight, all I can see is children who are willing to sacrifice themselves to fight for the future of Hong Kong. They are willing to bet on their future in exchange for something that even adults like us who will never risk anything to accomplish. They may be inexperienced and their methodology may be childish, but many people have tried more mature ways but they still failed.
As an adult in mid 30s, I feel shameful as I am supposed to protect our children but it was them who are now protecting us. Even though they are full of vulgar words but they all have a good heart, they care about Hong Kong. Finally, to all my friends in their 30s, 40s and 50s, before we pass over our batons to the younger ones, we are the ones who should receive them first as the society in fact belongs to the older generation. Can we stay committed to ourselves? One day, when we take over the society, we don’t want this bad trend of bullying the younger ones to continue before we pass over the batons to them.