Thursday, 4 June 2015

When the Context of the June 4 Incident Matters

Text: TC Li           

I was born in a time when Hong Kong’s economy began to take off, enabling a better quality of life for its citizens. The primary school I went to had double glazing windows to mitigate the noise from the constant air traffic high above – the city’s airport was still that one with the awe-inspiring runway in the middle of the city. It was a time when children were allowed to be children, roll in the sands if you wish, do your homework while watching the telly if you wish, with impunity. Most of us, adults and children alike, had English names alongside our Chinese ones. I never questioned why I was also called Heather Li, because the particular political status of Hong Kong was status quo.

It was also the time when news footage of tanks sent down Tiananmen Square captivated everyone, and a disconcerting silence loomed large. My mum went ballistic, and my dad offered to try applying for emigration to Canada again, after letting go of the successful application a couple years prior. “But what if you can’t find a job as an engineer there?” asked mum. “Even if I can only find a job washing dishes at a restaurant, that will have to do,” replied dad.

We took to the streets and sat under the sun at Victoria Park for as long as our stamina would allow. For a long time the only tunes that blasted from our car’s audio system were from the collection of songs, composed especially in memory of the June 4 Incident. Songs of heartbreak for the demise of one’s country, songs that best described the feelings that were brewing inside my dad.

We could have relocated to Algarve, Portugal, where dad had bought a house in a quaint little villa by the sea. We would have grown up speaking Portuguese and Cantonese, writing to friends and relatives scattered all over the world, before the Internet came along. But none of that happened because my parents decided to stay, from the faith they had in a better future for Hong Kong. For a decade or so my dad was happy that reality proved he made the right decision.

And then the extreme pan-dems came along. Instill the city with unsubstantiated fear, they did, and atomise the people, they did. They claim they want the best for Hong Kong and the people, but really it’s their individual and political parties’ interests they are after. With staged stunts of fortitude they manage to fool the mass – the mass that fails to see it’s heroism the politicians are seeking.

It’s as if we’re back to square one, or even worse. And the Central Government doesn’t have to do anything. But really, how do you educate a crowd that has decided to commemorate the June 4 Incident with China taken out of the context? How do you talk to the people and groups that organise annual mass gatherings on this very date, more for publicity and less for remembering the lives that were perished and the cause that was lost? 

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