Friday, October 31, 2014

Do people become stupid when they join the (HK) government?

The answer, apparently, is YES.  Otherwise how else can you explain some of the inane logic as exhibited by some of our government officials?

5 days ago, Mr. K, a high ranking government official, complained that the Occupiers violated the law, and yet demanded that the police enforce the law when reporters were attacked.  His logic seems to be: people who break the law do not deserve protection from the police.  Doesn’t he know that the police are supposed to protect even convicted criminals when they are attacked?  Are the Occupiers less deserving than convicted criminals.?

There is actually a certain logic behind his behaviour, and others like him in the pro-establishment camp.  Beijing has taken an unjust stand.  As a government official, he wants to show that he stands on Beijing’s side.  Hence he has to defend something that is unjust.  Hence he has to resort to illogic.  How else can you defend an unjust position?  

He is not that stupid after all.  He was just trying to please his master - to whom he has sold his soul.  I don’t know which is worse. 

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Where is Faith when we need it?

It is said that Occupy Central and the reactions to it have torn apart Hong Kong society.  There is serious confrontation between the protesters and the government, Occupiers and anti-Occupiers, the young and the old, students and their teachers,    It has already destroyed many relations between friends and family members.  Many are going through personal conflicts - to occupy or to retreat?  to speak up or keep quiet?  to press for changes or trust in promises?  to insist on living out personal political beliefs or give in to the desires of parents?

Amid all the anguish, the Christian Faith has largely been silent.  Some of the core participants of Occupy Central such as Benny Tai, Rev. Chu and Joshua Wong are known to be Christians.  Some Christians have tried to provide counselling to the protesters at Admiralty.  But mostly, churches have been keeping quiet.  

I am not advocating that Christian churches come out to support one side or the other.  I believe Christians should participate in the protest or anti-protest, if they wish, as individuals.  What I am wondering is: does our faith really have nothing to offer to all the people who are facing such anguish that is making it very difficult for them to lead a normal life?

Many church leaders are afraid to even bring up the issue for fear of creating tension in their churches.  Some are saying Christians should stay out of politics.  Some are saying we should preach the Gospel and give up trying to improve society.  Others maintain that God will carry out justice and it is not necessary for Christians to do anything.  

I agree that governments should not interfere with churches - that is the true meaning of the principle of separation of church and state.  What the US constitution says is "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof".  It does not say that believers should keep out of Congress.  

Christians believe that they know the truth.  Does it make sense to leave the running of the government to people who “do not know the truth”?   Churches should not take a stand in a political conflict. But, shouldn’t believers, as individuals, contribute to the governing of Hong Kong by making their “wisdom” known?

When so many people are in anguish, facing immense difficulty in personal political decisions and inter-personal relations, do Christians really have nothing to offer them?   By staying silent when society is crying out for directions, I am afraid we may be failing our society.  

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Sunday Morning at Occupy Mongkok

It was 10 AM Sunday morning.  Many people were late getting up, and it was no different at Occupy Mongkok.  

Many businesses, however, were open already, including jewellery shops. 

A study room was open.  But the one person who was there seemed to be having breakfast.  

Umbrellas were popping up everywhere.  Emotional events like these are great stimulators for creativity.  

There were few Occupiers on Argyle Street between Nathan Road and Portland Street.  I wondered why the police did not attempt to clear the street. 

For now, the police seemed to be the ones occupying the junction of Argyle Street and Nathan Road.  

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Business as Usual in Mongkok

While Occupiers make speeches, paper umbrellas, pitch tents, stock supplies, provide medical service, study and sleep, shops on both sides of Nathan Road continue to open for business.  

If Occupy Central (Mongkok) is truly as violent as pro-establishment types claim, would the jewellery shops continue to open, with Occupiers right outside their stores?

Return to Occupy Mongkok - Oct 24

After taking a break from the Occupy furore to visit universities in the USA for service-learning, I went back to Mongkok to have a look.  Some of the roads have been cleared.  

Vehicles can now drive along Argyle Street from the East,

turned right (North) at the junction of Argyle and Nathan,

and continue North on Nathan Road. 

Argyle Street between Nathan Road and Portland Street is still being occupied. 

Similarly, Nathan Road between Argyle Street and Dundas Street is still being occupied. 

The mood on the street is calm but determined.  These Occupiers are really resilient. 

I have been warned by people from both sides against going to Mongkok.  But I have never felt threatened when I am among the Occupiers.  It is only the anti-Occupiers who have been abusive and violent. 

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

The Amish in Pennsylvania

In the middle of the Occupy Central drama, I had to go to the USA to visit a number of universities to explore opportunities for collaboration in Service-Learning.  It gave me a chance to visit the Amish country in Pennsylvania. 

The Amish history started in the later 1600s in Switzerland.  They were called Anabaptists because they insisted that those who were baptised as an infant have to be baptised again to be a true believer.  They believed in living simple lives and refused to adopt modern technology.  In the 1700s they emigrated from Europe.  They ride horse-drawn buggies rather than gasoline powered cars. 

They use horses to plough the field.  

You can have a four horse-power plough. 

Their horses can be beautiful and intriguing, when they look at you with those huge eyes.  

They ride scooters but not bicycles. Because you cannot go very far with a scooter, hence you are less likely to leave home.  

They dress very modestly, and do not like to get their images taken.

They are excellent farmers.

They are also excellent carpenters.  They are experts of modular design - they make benches and then stack 3 benches on a frame to make a table.  

They make all kinds of intricate roller games for entertainment.

For hundreds of years, they demonstrate to us that we can live simply and modestly if we really want to.  

Friday, October 10, 2014

Democracy now, or nothing?

Amazingly, protesters are still occupying Admiralty/Central, Mongkok and Causeway Bay.  

Many people who support their aspirations are advising them to retreat.  The reasons may vary: the danger of violent crackdown, antagonising other citizens and losing support popular, futility of asking Beijing to change its mind, exploitation by sinister foreign powers, …  

It seems that some of the students feel that they cannot retreat unless the government makes at least some significant concessions.  But the government is not making any, and actually appears to be playing some kind of game with them.  Hence the standoff. 

Many people are sympathetic to the students.  Yet they feel that what the students demand - for Beijing to overturn its earlier decision and to allow citizen nominations - is impossible, at least for now.  

The students have already shown the world their desire for democracy, their determination and ability to mobilise.  They cannot won the ultimate struggle for democracy here and now.  The struggle for democracy is a long one.  It will not be won in one day, one year, our lifetime, and even many lifetimes. But they have made a giant step forward.  Hong Kong, and even China, are indebted to them.  

But many students do not feel that way. They are young and for many of them, this is their very first attempt to realise their dream.  For them, there is no past and no future; the only reality is now.  They feel that if they do not get a significant concession from the government now, they will have lost everything.  

That’s unfortunate.  For history is real, and takes a long time. 

Sunday, October 05, 2014

Time to Go?

10 o'clock in the morning, October 5th, only a small group of protesters remained at Occupy Mongkok.  But it is a resilient bunch.  They have weathered many days and nights of onslaught by anti-Occupiers. And they have stayed.  

A young man was lying on a tarpaulin, with his mother hovering over him, trying to sooth him.  

There were a lot more police this time.  When an argument got rather heated, they stepped in and tried to calm people down. 

An agitated man tried to dismantle the central tent.  The police quickly stepped in and whisked him away, while he continued to shout excitedly. 

He was saying the Occupiers were disrupting his work, his business.  

I really think it is time for the Occupiers to go.  They have demonstrated how strongly we Hong Kong people feel about democracy and an open election.  But there is truly a significant number of people who do not agree with this method of protest, for a variety of reasons.  

More importantly, the tempers are fraying.  There is too much risk of violent confrontation.  The struggle for democracy is a long fight.  We should avoid shedding blood.