Saturday, January 23, 2010

Violent protesters?

Some of the university students who were there protesting outside the Legislative Council last Saturday (16 January) are very indignant. They said they have only been peacefully singing, discussing, and making speeches most of the time. Many of them are first time protesters. The worst that they did, and only for brief periods, was to block the exits and to push against the barriers, in an effort to speak to the government officials and the legislators.

Now they are being accused of being violent, and seriously disturbing the order of the community.

Perhaps the government officials and some of the legislators from functional constituencies were really scared. A video of them (about 10 to 15) fleeing from the MTR was posted on the Internet. They could be seen to be protected by a thick layer of more than 70 police officers, as if they are under threat of serious harm. Yet no pursurers of any kind can be seen in the video. It looks more like a bit of paranoia.

What is better? For the young people to be apathetic? Or to care enough about a costly railway project that wil have a big impact on society, to stage a sit-in?

Yet the government keeps stonewalling, refusing to speak with the young people, and refusing to give the citizens a reasonable period of time to address many of the concerns raised. Perferring to rely on the many legislators “elected” from very small closed circles masquerading as functional constituencies, to push through a very costly project that is bound to further enrich many of the wealthiest in the community.

“Elected” legislators are refusing to speak to the people they are supposed to represent. Government officials are refusing to speak to the people they are supposed to serve.

Now the government is trying to paint the few perhaps a bit agitated young people as violent mobsters. Most of us do not condone violence, and prefer to see the protesters refrain from even pushing and shoving. But can we really blame the people for being upset? The government must bear a large part of the responsibilities for causing this to happen.

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