Keane Shum

It's 1am. Another round of tear gas in Admiralty, another pack of green riot police scurrying away. The crowds disperse, the crowds return, larger.

I once thought I would never say goodbye to Hong Kong. Or, that if I ever did, it would be by my own choice. I should have known better. In this city, the choice has never been ours.

I used to occupy Central. I used to grab a sandwich and sit in Statue Square or Chater Garden and feel like I owned the place, because unlike the rest of Central during lunch hour, I never had to wait in line to get a seat.

The first time you go to the June 4 vigil at Victoria Park, expect to be unprepared for a number of things. The difficulty of affixing, with dripping wax, a candle to a conical paper cup.

Some time ago, the chief executive and I exchanged letters, in these pages, on the topic of universal suffrage. In a developed society, I argued, it was an inevitable evolution, and Hong Kong was as ready for democracy as any society ever could be.

A few times a year, I catch the Star Ferry to Tsim Sha Tsui and take a walk along the Kowloon waterfront. I walk past the clock tower, past the rising south face of the Cultural Centre, past the line of photograph stalls with the best views of the harbour and the fine diners inside the InterContinental. I walk past the handprints of movie stars that dot the promenade, and keep walking until a familiar bronze figure comes into focus, a lean body with limbs bent in anticipation, that seems to sway even though it is frozen.

I learned something new about Hong Kong this month: in this great city, in our law-abiding society, if you really must burn something, better that it be your neighbour's dog than the national flag.

Experience with the Chinese justice system teaches that the illegal detention of Gao Zhisheng will continue into the new year. Nevertheless, it would be nice to be proved wrong.