Hong Kong Reporters On The Express Rail Link Protest
[Here are two blog posts by professional Hong Kong reporters. One reporter is now the subject of human flesh search which may lead to harassment and cyberbullying. Why don't you guess which one? Both reporters are writing in their personal blogs and expressing their personal views. Is there anything wrong with that? Are certain opinions to be tolerated but others not? Is this how freedom of speech is practiced?]
(Those Were The Days)
Last night, 2,000 anti-ERL young demonstrators marched towards Government House after the Legco Finance Committee ended its meeting. They demanded to speak to Bowtie Tsang. A social activist friend A told me that he had been concerned that these passionate, undisciplined young people may lose control and cause consequences big and small. When he saw people sitting down and occupying Upper Albert Road, he as worried that clashes may occur if some young people refused to leave.
But in the end, A was surprised to find the demonstrators being more self-disciplined than he estimated. Although most of them came spontaneously, they did not engage in any extreme action (let me state here that for A, charging the police line is not extreme action because he had done the same thing ten or twenty years ago -- these are just "standard actions" and "routine matters" of any demonstration). When their leaders told them to sit down, they sat down obediently. They sang, they chanted slogans and they took photos. When their leaders told them to leave peacefully, everybody left peacefully. No one insisted on staying. The police did not have to use force to clear the scene. By 1am, Upper Albert Road became calm again.
A said that even though these young people were unorganized, their sense of resistance gained his respect. When they had to act, they moved forward and occupied the whole of Upper Albert Road. When they had to end, they were orderly. A thought that this represented the true awakening of the young generation. They fully realize when their demonstration has to be extreme if necessary, including charging the police line. But when their demonstration has to finish, they they rationally agreed and accepted. They will not stay behind just to get more exposure as heroes being carried away by the police in front of the cameras.
This is the kind of resistance methods that troubles the government the most: when they come, they swarm from every direction; whey they leave, they do this quietly and wait for the next event. They will always be there, they will always resist, they will always hold firm. They will always follow their own rules and methods. They will never create a disturbance.
Last night (January 15, 2010, the eve before the Legco vote on the Express Rail Link funding) at around 9:30pm in front of the , I witnessed a scene which made me thoroughly disugsted with the anti-ERL protestors. I followed them to their assembly in front of Government House later. I decided that I will never respect them again.
Legco Finance Committee chairperson Emily Lau announced the adjournment of the session, and the police began their deployment. I was covering the case of the post-80's man who had fainted from the hunger strike in the parking lot near Hong Kong Club. Suddenly, I saw a large number of police officers marching quickly to the other side. I thought that maybe something was taking place, so I followed them. I saw that it was only the police assigning more manpower after the Legco session ended. So I breathed a sigh of relief and stood at the other exit of the Legco parking lot to chat with another fellow reporter ...
Suddenly, several young man leapt over a steel barrier intended to separate two groups of protestors. Their companions saw them succeed and therefore imitated them by scaling the barrier as well. The police were worried and immediately sent officers over to secure the barrier and prevent more intrusions.
Those who succeeded to leap over the steel barriers were upset that the police prevented them from crossing the final steel barrier. They began a physical shoving match with the police, screaming and yelling. The situation was very chaotic ...
Was there the single confrontation? That would be too naive. Another group of demonstrators charged at the parking lot gate and clashed with the police. Then the demonstrators from Chater Garden began to shove and ram at the steel barriers ... this must be the worst chaos since the Article 23 assembly in 2003. All the gates were locked.
Frankly, I was not afraid about them going crazy. I just watched coolly from aside. I expected this, but I knew that I needed to find out why they were charging. So I listened to their slogans and demands. What did I hear?
"Fuck you!" "Charge over!" "Police, scram aside" "Direct conversation" "DAB most shameless" "Drop dead" "Oppose Express Rail Link" "Stop funding" "Withdraw the proposal" ...
Then there was the shouting between the pro- and anti-ERL folks:
Pro: "... (unclear) ... aren't you in the wrong area?"
Anti: "What? Why can't I do this? Do you own this place?"
Pro: "Indeed you can't do this. You can't shove us."
Anti: "If you don't fucking like it, you can fucking scram!"
Pro: "Fuck your mother ... police! someone is making trouble here ..."
Anti: "... what the fuck is this to you? ..."
Followed by streams of obscenities ...
I wanted to record the physical melee, but I ended up with a recording of obscene quarrels. I had no time for them. I called the company, and the supervisor said: "Live, OK!" But he wanted to know why they were suddenly charging.
This was somewhat of a problem for me. It had been peaceful until a few people leaped over the steel barrier. I really did not know what their purpose was.
Up front, people were pushing at the steel barriers. In the middle, people were cursing each other out. So I could only asked the people further back about why they were charging.
"We oppose the Express Rail Link!"
"Why did you charge?"
"I told you that we oppose the Express Rail Link."
"I know, but why does opposing this lead to charging?"
"Everybody else was charging. You ask them why they were charging."
The people in front were not finished as they shouted loudly to speak directly to the legislators ... I looked at my watch: 21.53. I called the company and told the supervisor about what was happening at the scene as well as the contents of the live report. I was ready to go live when I saw the "chargers" who had rejected the police appeal for calm previously now dispersing slowly. I asked a fellow reporter and I was told that they just called everybody to proceed to Government House.
22:02. The live report was over. I stayed at the scene to monitor the situation while awaiting further instructions from the supervisor. 22:14. The supervisor told me to follow them up to Government House. But since my colleague was "trapped" inside the Legco building, I had to do it and see if I can do another live report at 22:30.
The walk from the Legislative Council to Government House is neither short nor long, but it is uphill. So this gave me another opportunity to do some aerobic exercise for weight reduction.
I saw that those walking up to Government House included not just post-80's, but also post-50's, post-60's, post-70's, post 90-'s and even post-2000's. At that moment, they were peaceful and were only chanting slogans along the way.
By the time I arrived at Government House, it was 22:22. People were sitting down on the two lanes of Upper Albert Road. Other reporters arrived before me and we all got about the same information: the purpose of the demonstrators was to demonstrate the power of the people and to demand a direct conversation with Donald Tsang.
At this moment, the "assembly" announced via megaphone: "What will we do if we don't see Donald Tsang tonight?"
"We won't leave!"
"We will wait until he comes out."
Two minutes later, they announced via megaphone again: "We will give 30 minutes for Chief Executive Tsang to come out and respond to our demands. He has to come out by midnight to answer us. We will now hold a party in front of his door!"
But what if Donald Tsang does not come out by midnight? The "assembly" did not say and nobody at the scene had the answer.
The 22:30 live report was done. More time to see what they were up to. The supervisor did not say much. There would be no live report at 23:00. A very good decision.
I was shooting the breeze with other reporters while watching those people. I was actually quite disgusted with their actions and behaviors.
"We have many more people coming up from Garden Road, but the police are not letting them make the turn to come here."
"We demand the police to let them go!"
"Let go!" "Let go!" "Let go!" "Let go!" "Let go!" "Let go!"
"CCTV, whatever" "Whatever" "Whatever"
"Stephen Chan, drop dead"
"Yuen Chi-wai, drop dead"
Oh, the reporter from TVB were filming them.
Even further ahead, I heard the young man in front saying: "I deliberately waited until she went on live to fucking curse her out. I deliberately shoved her a few times! If I didn't curse her out, she wouldn't have stop the filming so quickly!"
At that moment, I found it really insufferable. But what can I do? I was in a bad mood. So I used the excuse of the crowdiness to step on his heel a few times ...
Midnight. The assembly told everybody to go home now and continue tomorrow. But Christina Chan and them took the megaphone and told everybody to stay and party the night. Everybody was welcome to join in ...
Okay, you have your right to stay. Even though I was not happy about the working hours and my supervisor said that I did not have to stay the night, I and my colleagues stayed with them. We tried to pick up information and we shot the breeze with each other ...
These people began to bang drums, sing and dance! To put it nicely, they seemed to be very happy. To be more precise, they seemed like as if they had been sniffing ketamine!"
Ms. Chan sat on the ground while exposing her butt crack. The others held cigarettes in their hand and continued to puff away as if they had not smoked in the last decade. They blew smoke rings into the air. Some people raised their hands skywards and shook their bodies back and forth. They gave loud silly laughs, they sang songs with unknown titles except for the one that went "We will, we will fuck you" ... I really don't see what any of this has to do with the Express Rail Link.
Apart from the Cable TV reporter who has to file live reports, the reporters around them probably had no intention of interviewing them but instead spoke about stock tips amongst ourselves.
Suddenly, one bespectacled dancing girl turned to us and said, "Reporters, let's dance together! Let's dance together!"
I was stunned. I turned my grim face away from them, in case I was tempted to tell her: "Get lost, bitch!"
Even more, my colleague said that he was also invited to dance with the request: "Cutie, let's dance together. Come on!"
I was extremely disgusted and I really could not hang around any longer. So I was trying to figure out when to leave. Suddenly Ms. Chan and them picked up their backpacks and handbags. Hey, didn't they say that they will wait all night for Donald Tsang? Were they going to use the restroom together? Or were they let down because they could not get on television?
00:52. They banged drums, blew whistles and headed towards Garden Road. This farce was finally going to end. The overnight anchor person asked whether they were going home or back to Legco. I chased down a young guy blowing a whistle to ask him where they were headed. He said:
"Ha ha, actually I don't know. You better ask them!"
So I asked a bespectacled brother with a beard, and he was evasive:
"Where are you going now?"
"You'll find out if you come with us."
(Damn!) "Are you going home or what?"
"Are you guys going home or are you meeting at Legco?"
"... We are going back to Legco first. We are going to Legco!"
So the curtains finally fell for this farcical night!
Chan Long-sing's loud cry: "Yeah! Work over!" was the most delightful thing that I heard all night ...
I support the construction of the Express Rail Link, but I never object to others opposing the Express Rail Link. Hong Kong is a free society which should be able to tolerate different kinds of voices. Everybody has the freedom to express their opinions and they can use their own methods. Even if our positions are different, I still praise the post-80's for using the "strenuous march" method to petition. And I don't even object to people who think that extreme methods must be used in order to achieve results.
But I oppose and resent those demonstrators who don't even know why they are charging the police; those leaders who inflame other people's passions at will; those people who exploit the issue for their own advantage; those idiots who look for television exposure; those mental patients who suffer from paranoia as soon as they see the police; those troublemakers who decide for themselves that they are conducting civil disobedience at all cost; those citizens who criticize the reporters and their work without understanding anything ...
Over the several short hours last night, these were the kinds of people that I met. Are they the future of Hong Kong? If the answer is "yes," then I really feel very sorry!