“Hello darkness, my old friend
I’ve come to talk with you again
Because a vision softly creeping
Left its seeds while I was sleeping
And the vision that was planted in my brain
Within the sound of silence.”
This song has been in my head for the past week. You know how it is when you just cannot shake it off. And whispers in the sounds of silence.
The year is coming to an end. Time to sit down and reflect. I don’t do that often.
Alright, I lied. For a while, I have been trying to reflect on what has been happening in Hong Kong over the last three months. I have been trying to record the history that is in the making. I have been trying to show solidarity. Apparently trying is not enough. I haven’t, I didn’t, I couldn’t.
Lucky for me, I have the platform to freely speak my mind, and I didn’t. I have the freedom to make a note of the most important happenings in the history of Hong Kong, and I couldn’t. Not a post in nearly four months.
Words are inadequate. MY words are inadequate.
I felt inadequate.
The last three months has been a political awakening for many in Hong Kong, especially the younger generation. The Western media first labelled it the Umbrella Revolution after September 28. That was the night when the police used pepper spray and 87 tear gas to disperse non-violent protesters in Admiralty. It marked the beginning of occupying Admiralty, Causeway Bay and Mongkok. It was honourably dubbed the most peaceful, the most polite protest ever, with the most well-mannered activists, fighting for the right to universal suffrage. Not a burnt car, not a looted jewellers’ shop window in nearly three months of the street demonstrations.
The camp sites in the busiest commercial centres slowly became a Shangri-la, where kindness, generosity, trust and humanity were remembered and enacted. Expensive mobile phones were entrusted to volunteers’ make shift recharging stations. First aid stations were manned by doctors and nursing staff in their time off. A message posted on social media saw emergency supplies promptly delivered.
Lennon Wall multi-coloured Post-it Notes; Lion Rock iconic Banners; the Umbrella Man… and artistic display of imagination and creativity decorated the once traffic jammed city centres. The humble umbrella became the protest symbol, come rain or shine.
Then darkness came, and clashes with anti-democracy mobs supported by police erupted. I have had many sleepless nights watching events unfold online, feeling helpless and disheartened. Excessive force used to apprehend protesters, first aiders and innocent passers-by has shattered trust in the police. When the government not only turned a blind eye to police violence, but sugar-coated their actions, the call for the resignation of the corrupted Chief Executive grew louder than ever. When the promise of ‘One Country, Two Systems’ is gradually revoked, the determination to retain some autonomy over HongKong’s affairs by Hongkongers becomes stronger.
“If not now, when? If not you, who?”
The street camps were cleared, and many unreasonable arrests have been made since. Police violence does not seem to abate, leaving casualties with both physical and mental scars.
Words are inadequate.
But when Gmail was found inaccessible in mainland China this morning, I felt hopeful that I could still hear the voices of our younger generation declaring：
“We’ll be back!”
“It’s just the beginning….”