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Tiananmen Square: is it any of our business?

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 04 June, 2014, 3:36am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 04 June, 2014, 3:36am

Tiananmen Square: is it our business to care?

Has it been 25 years already? How can a memory that is a quarter-century old remain so vivid in the minds of so many? Yet it has. The June 4, 1989, Tiananmen crackdown, incident, massacre - call it what you will - is no ordinary memory. That was the day Chinese troops opened fire on protesters who staged huge rallies in the capital against rampant corruption - rallies which then morphed into a mass democracy movement. Today, 25 years later, the democracy fire ignited by the Tiananmen movement still burns in Hong Kong even though the world has confined the crackdown to the history books. How many turn up for tonight's annual Victoria Park candlelight vigil will be a test of how deeply Hongkongers still care. But is it our business to care? We are the only society to mark the event on a large scale every year; Chinese communities elsewhere have moved on. Yes, people were killed, some say in cold blood. Yes, Beijing has yet to atone convincingly for this black mark in its history. No one knows for sure how many died on that fateful night. Beijing needs to set the record straight, if not for the world or Hongkongers, then for its own conscience. A prerequisite for a nation aspiring to be a respected superpower in the 21st century is that it knows how to do the right thing. The trouble with Hongkongers is that we are merging our fight for democracy with our desire for democracy on the mainland. We always insist that mainland leaders stay out of our domestic affairs, but isn't demanding that they democratise meddling in theirs? If growing prosperity in a nation of 1.3 billion has diminished the people's appetite for democracy, is it our business to fight on their behalf at the risk of disadvantaging our own fight? If the mainland cannot spawn its own Gandhi or Nelson Mandela, is it our duty to take up that role? That is worth thinking about.

 

Passport development shows UK is undeveloping

We thought the sun had long ago set on the British Empire, but apparently this faded power has a new low for the sun to sink to. Even third-world nations must be smirking at Britain's inability to issue passports in a timely manner. It is beyond belief that a country claiming to be developed has so lost it that its nationals abroad must wait for months for such a basic service. Talk about the decline of the West.

 

Time to count the human cost of mainland tourists

An economist was making such inane remarks on radio last week about mainland visitors that our blood boiled. He is such a forgettable character that we cannot remember his name. He rambled on about the economic costs if we were to restrict the flood of mainland visitors. It was all dollars and cents - lower profits for retailers, lost jobs and a blow to the tourism industry. What about the human cost - crowded MTR trains, rising inflation, infant formula shortages and declining quality of life? Do these not matter? Must government officials and their minions always place dollars and cents above all else - even the sanity of our society?

Michael Chugani is a columnist and television show host. mickchug@gmail.com