POP Site From the Editor - On Double TenBack

Note: This article only represents the view of the author and not the University of Hong Kong.

Ten months ago, I started to write again - initially for our "POP Column" and "From the Editor" of our POP Site. Up to now, I still prefer to communicate in writing. Within these less than 10 months, Hong Kong has undergone some earth-shattering changes. Including this piece, I have written four pieces "From the Editor".

On January 1, I wrote, "The year 2002 was hard to endure, and there is still no light from the other side of the tunnel."

On April 4, I wrote again, "Wrecked havoc by atypical pneumonia, Hong Kong is just like hell…the year 2002 was hard to endure…Three months later, the nightmare has just begun."

On July 7, after big demonstration, I wrote my third piece, "Kept my lips tight for [three years], I was waiting for our society to heal itself…I just hoped that we all learn a precious lesson. Sadly, sadly, very sadly, this was not the case. Three years have passed, but practically all indicators have plunged. CE's popularity has gone bankrupt, and people are absolutely in despair…"

Now it's October 10. Are we going to keep blaming everybody and cursing fate?

Maybe not, because the people has spoken, and our society and government seem to have somewhat awakened. However, power corrupts. Whether the influential bigwigs, and those who fawn on them, are able to condescend themselves and put people first, remains to be seen.

Ninety-two years ago, the 1911 Chinese Revolution put an end to our feudal monarchy. However, the authoritarian system inherited from our Asiatic mode of production persists, and has found its way into society's dominant ideology. Be it the Sanmin Doctrine ("Three Principles of the People"), communism, or "one country, two systems", when they are practiced in Chinese societies, those at the top are always valued much more than the common people. Democracy and science have yet to make their home in Chinese societies.

Looking at ourselves, Hong Kong is a society where the East meets the West, resulting in a colourful mixture of oriental and western cultures. Hong Kong could be a marvelous breeding ground for new cultures. With our liberal tradition, Hong Kong also embraces the rule of law, which is so often absent in other Chinese societies. Albeit the lack of democracy, Hong Kong is relatively civilized and corruption-free. Amidst its economic downswing, Hong Kong is still among the top-notch developed societies. With these advantages in hand, Hong Kong can easily lead the way for the development of science and democracy in Chinese societies. The prospect for democratic development enshrined in the Basic Law should therefore be properly grasped.

Unfortunately, six years have passed, small-circle politics has become more and more prevailing. Personal favours, face saving and guanxi connections are getting more weights than the rule of law, truth, and the justice…

July 1 may be a wake-up call for all of us.

When I started writing again, I wrote this in my first column article: "…from a long-term perspective, what the Mainland society needs most is the international experience of Hong Kong, while what concerns the Taiwan society most is a proof of peaceful democratic and livelihood integration. Shall we keep counting on the backing of the Mainland instead of making our own foothold in the world, we will not be doing any good even to mother China herself. The true value of Hong Kong lies in our ability to bring all Chinese people to the commonwealth of the world".

Ninety-two years have elapsed since the "1911 Chinese Revolution", and the "May Fourth Movement" has already celebrated its 84th anniversary. Still, democracy and science have yet to enroot in China. Do we really need a century to accomplish them "step-by-step"? The failure of the "Reform Movement of 1898" sparked the "1911 Chinese Revolution", followed by the "New Culture Movement" and then the "May Fourth Movement". Democracy and science played the pivotal role for the entire period.

Governments on both sides of the Strait have never negated (or dared not negate) the "1911 Chinese Revolution" and the "May Fourth Movement". Why, judging from the sophistication of our Hong Kong people, and the civility of Hong Kong society, should we not take the spirit of "July 1" as a continuation of "Double Ten" and "May Fourth"? Are democracy and science really that scary?

Robert Ting-Yiu Chung
October 10, 2003