• Mon
  • Sep 22, 2014
  • Updated: 9:16pm
Universal Suffrage
CommentInsight & Opinion

Is it time to leave beloved Hong Kong?

Joyce Man says Beijing's decision on democracy has dashed hopes

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 03 September, 2014, 11:58am
UPDATED : Thursday, 04 September, 2014, 11:43am

In my family, we like to joke and call my father the "insurance man". An insurance consultant for more than 40 years, he goes to extraordinary lengths to minimise risks in any and every situation. As such, he's tried to ensure the family has a soft landing, should anything untoward happen.

In 1989, amid uncertainty over the handover of Hong Kong in 1997, my parents took out the ultimate insurance policy: they moved me and my sister with them to Canada, where we obtained citizenship first before moving back to our home city.

Now, 25 years later, I am thinking about putting that insurance policy into action and leaving Hong Kong permanently for Canada.

I recently moved to Bonn, Germany, temporarily for research, and like many millennial transplants abroad, I followed Beijing's decision on elections in Hong Kong through online news reports, Facebook posts and Skype calls home.

When I first read the news on my phone during my morning train ride, I couldn't help but get emotional, my eyes welling up with tears right there in a crowd of German commuters.

I wanted to be with my fellow Hongkongers at this vital moment. But, more than that, I was moved to tears out of frustration, because this is the latest in a string of disappointments for our city.

Over the past few years, I have grown steadily less hopeful about Hong Kong. At 30, I should be contemplating buying a flat and starting a family, but neither of these prospects entices me. I resent that being a homeowner in Hong Kong means saving for over a decade to buy a miserable hovel in the boondocks. I cannot contemplate having a child when the only options in education are pressure-cooker local schools and overpriced international institutions.

My friends and I stopped going out - there were too many tourists everywhere. I no longer know where to shop. With affordable stores disappearing and visitors crowding the ones that remain, buying clothes, shoes and basic necessities became a daily battle.

Then, there are the signs of Beijing closing in: the plans for national education in 2011, and the white paper released in June proclaiming China's comprehensive jurisdiction over Hong Kong.

The right to vote for our leaders might not change all the things that are wrong in Hong Kong, but at least, with a ballot in hand, we could take ownership of our problems and try to resolve them. With Beijing's announcement, these hopes have been dashed.

For those of us who moved all those years ago - to Canada, the US, Britain, Australia and beyond - we had a very clear idea of what we were running from. Images of the violence and bloodshed in the Tiananmen crackdown were etched in our memories. The same thing could befall us, we thought. If ever a tank rolled over the Lok Ma Chau border, we could take our passports and run.

What we didn't visualise quite as starkly was a threat of this kind: the gradual encroachment on our way of life, and the sustained restrictions on our ability to decide how our home is governed.

I care a great deal for my city. I believe inherently in Hongkongers' ability to innovate, endure, thrive and reinvent ourselves. But I'm not sure I have it in me to stay.

Leaving is not something that any of us talk about lightly. It feels like desertion and betrayal. But I suspect that many, like me, are starting to have that conversation - not because they do not love Hong Kong, but because they can't bear to see the home they love slip away.

Joyce Man is the author of the blog Criss Cross Culture, at www.crisscrossculture.net

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raymondspchu
BS!
grosvenor2007
It's time for Scotland to leave beloved UK.
53493b03-5698-48e5-97a8-35060a320969
To be honest i noticed exactly the same problems she raised and when comparing to the places I been to as well as my family financial situation, it is totally intolerable. Loving hongkong doesnt mean we must STAY in hongkong. I can see some hongkongers love hk very much and would like to contribute, but what they are doing instead is making NOISES, complain, all sorts of 'actions' with short term results in order to just release their temper but got nothing to do positively.
I am also considering immigration, its a very personal choice. Look at such as Europe, the people there are so used to travelling and living outside their countries to work and study, you can see Italians in London, Germans in Switzerland, and so on. It is not betrayal, it is to travel to broaden horizon and to learn from different countries so people can gradually understand how to solve problems in their own country. The freedom of geographical mobility to work and study is definitely good to enhance redistribution of resources and wealth between the rich and the poor or problematic countries. If you stay in HK, apart from protests, do the people who are blaming others not to leave have a real solid solution? Is it all about complaints and discriminating mainlanders will do? That is called shortsightedness. You just feel good now. There must be some people leaving HK to make this place less crowded and less NOISES. Some people stay in hk just to stay but to make things worse. That's not 'loving HK'.
ant5354
It is not convinced that you sincerely love your hometown, since you leaved your hometown without any hesitation.
When you are not in your hometown, you are not in a convincing position to criticize the people who are brave enough to stay to fight for their future.
540f1471-4bdc-406c-89ec-08d30a3209ca
When was the last time Hong Kongers got to elect the leader of the city/region?
53ac29fb-d0f8-4464-9390-52bc0a3209cb
Many of my friends come back to HK because they cannot get jobs in Australia or Canada. It is always like that, you become the second class citizen when you go to other countries and become their PR or citizen. You never feel belongings there no matter how long you stay there. So forget the politics. This is the fact. If you want to leave, then leave. Stop talking all kinds of nonsense. Nobody stopping you.
tksiow
She is just a banana only able to survive on the low strata of society in Canada. Hong Kong is too vibrant and competitive for her to survive. Go FO.
kctony
low strata of society in Canada??? Have you lived there?
.
What are you in Hong Kong if you are not rich & connected?
.
1) Can you run for office in HK & China? Google the number of Chinese Members of Parliament in Canada. You don't think a nation would let people from low strata of society sit in the Parliament, would you?
Think harder. What does China think of you?
.
2) Ask yourself why you cannot have a Chinese passport but people like Henry or Allan Z do? Ouch, a g**lo has one and you can't.
.
Think for your family. If you are doing OK, fine. There are many aren't but get stuck here.
sienna.lai
Come on people .. jobs? .. I cant find work HERE in HK .. and had too much to handle in the US.
sienna.lai
yet another stupid short-sighted comment from ******

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