• Thu
  • Aug 28, 2014
  • Updated: 6:10am
My Take
PUBLISHED : Friday, 05 July, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 05 July, 2013, 4:39am

Where were my neighbours on July 1?

If those who joined the July 1 march represent Hong Kong's majority, then where are those people in my neighbourhood? Statistically, the odds must be good for me to come across one or more protesters. I ran up and down the road to ask my neighbours this week if they took part on Monday and couldn't find a single one. Maybe they just didn't want people to know about their involvement, but I seriously doubt that.

From my highly unscientific and partisan survey, I conclude that there is the real quiet majority, people who have no time for politics or protest because they are not upset or don't care enough. Sure, I think most Hongkongers like me and my neighbours want full democracy, clean and efficient government and a fairer society. But most of us realise we already live in a free and safe city, with a relatively efficient civil service. Yes, it's a semi-democratic society full of defects and problems, but then what society isn't?

Many of us also don't want to antagonise or confront the central government. This may be for purely pragmatic reasons, but not a few of us may have patriotic respect for Beijing for what it has achieved in a generation by making the country, while not rich, at least not terribly poor like it was. We - like the vast majority of citizens on the mainland and most governments around the world - accept the central government as the legitimate government of China. And we believe it's better to work with Beijing in good faith to bring about full democracy than confronting it at every turn and denouncing mainland officials at every opportunity.

Such reasonable beliefs are not so hard to understand. But our anti-Beijing crowd insists on not understanding them, or ignoring and suppressing them, because they are at variance with their self-righteous and ideology-driven narrative. By definition, we may be in the majority but we don't make enough noise and attract attention. I respect people's right to protest, but I resent being presented with false choices - democracy good, Beijing evil - as if we were facing an existential moral crisis.

Like most ordinary people, I don't get invited to spring receptions with mainland honchos and local ministers. But if there is an occasion where a mainland official is present and wants to shake everyone's hand, I would certainly shake his as a respectful gesture. If my children tried to join those HKU or Scholarism under-aged protesters, I would ground them for a week and cut their allowances for a month. When the national anthem is played at a public event, I expect them to stand up.

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This article is now closed to comments

mh0908
I read you column this morning and I just want to tell you I agree. Thanks Alex!
tennisboy
You look at the above photo and you see a bunch of teenagers holding colonial flags. I am sure they are missing the "good ole days" of British rule when they were in their diapers and feeding on mommy's milk.
lokuohsiung
I agree with you, Alex.
John Adams
Dear Mr Lo
Seems you can't win.
But anyway, you are not alone
johnyuan
Don’t be that sure your neighbors are quiet majority. The habit of staying away from limelight doesn’t prevent one still engages in the protest through social media. In fact, I think taking to the streets is a passé. Who knows who my neighbor really is; the alias in the comments may be your neighbor who has been writing you all those hate letters. You are a fish in a fish bowl a condition which comes with your job.
KwunTongBypass
Sad to see that Alex Lo is also no longer immune to "Singapurification".
wwong888
alex - how much is the HK Liason Office of the CPP paying you on the side? or did they promise you a deputy editor position at the Global Times once the Kuok's shut down this sad publication... I propose we replace your column with a link to biglychee.com
ngsw
One of the organisers when asked why they do not deploy academic bodies to do the counting said these bodies are NEUTRAL for academic reasons, and the crowds were happy with the 430000 they announced. I prefer 380000, in which 3 and 8 are lucky numbers, and they can manipulate the number and still holding integrity when they declare they stand for democracy. I like democracy, as I can do anything after I have persuade enough people to stand on my side.
thung01
Mr Lo, none of my neighbours attended the pro-government rallies, and their numbers were much smaller than the pro-democracy rallies -- so, by your logic, what does that prove? That the overwhelming majority do not support the government?
"By definition, we may be in the majority", you say. Who are "we"? All those who did not join the protests? Hold a referendum (if the government dares), and you'll find out who "we" are.
Dai Muff
Didn't I read this in the Global Times yesterday?
Never mind Mr Lo, at least you are not even pretending to be sitting on that fence any more.

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