• Fri
  • Sep 19, 2014
  • Updated: 3:37pm

Those who speak openly about national issues are patriots, not traitors

PUBLISHED : Friday, 18 November, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 18 November, 2011, 12:00am

I refer to the article by Philip Fang ('Brat in the family', November 9).

He said that Anson Chan Fang On-sang, Martin Lee Chu-ming, Jimmy Lai Chee-ying and Cardinal Joseph Zen Ze-kiun were in 'open defiance', presumably of Beijing, and were thus a 'Gang of Four'. He also said they would be considered 'seditious' if we had an Article 23 law, in part because they were not 'grateful' enough for the mainland's alleged largesse.

Grateful? That demand is not the sign of a mature or self-confident government.

I was in Beijing during the dark days of the original Gang of Four, in the 1970s, when the government was certainly not self-confident. I recall how it was then - no freedom of speech, labour camps for dissidents; pretty much like it is now, it seems.

To hear Hongkongers labelled thus is chilling indeed, especially when those so labelled are staunch supporters of freedom of speech. To call them a Gang of Four is a grotesque inversion.

Mr Fang is just a retired interpreter. But perhaps - though let's hope not - he is a stalking horse for central government opinion.

If this is what Beijing is thinking, it is even more scary. After all, Mrs Chan, Mr Lee, Mr Lai and Cardinal Zen, whatever we may think of their views, are by no stretch of the imagination 'endangering state security'.

They are committed and concerned residents of Hong Kong - patriots, too, I would suggest - who speak openly and robustly about many issues that affect Hong Kong and the nation.

That is part of the hurly-burly of an open society, part of working through issues and part of providing a safety valve for differing ideas.

That Mr Fang should suggest Hong Kong has descended into 'lawlessness and anarchy' through 'open defiance' is laughable. It is all the more insulting coming, as it does, from a [former] mainland official - after all, on the mainland, the law is routinely flouted and on the mainland there are daily demonstrations by a population incensed by unlawful and corrupt officials. Yet the mainland, via Mr Fang, seeks to lecture Hong Kong on law and order and anarchy? Give me a break.

It is to be hoped that Hong Kong people let Mr Fang know in no uncertain terms that his trial balloon is a lead balloon; it is, or ought to be, going nowhere.

Peter Forsythe, Discovery Bay

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