My Take

Hong Kong university students beat the drum for free speech, but only if you agree with them

Many of those who advocate the new political/democratic values are also behaving in ways that directly undermine or subvert them

PUBLISHED : Friday, 12 February, 2016, 12:01am
UPDATED : Friday, 04 March, 2016, 2:59pm

It’s a refrain we’ve heard time and again. We must not let Hong Kong become “just another mainland city” because our core values are what distinguish us from “them”, that is, mainland Chinese. Frankly, if we had the dynamism of some major mainland cities, we wouldn’t be doing so badly.

But the thing is, your core values are not necessarily mine. Even if we can agree on the same vocabulary , we don’t necessarily agree on the means to achieving the desired ends.

READ MORE: How Hong Kong’s first night in the Year of the Monkey descended into mayhem

For the longest time and until quite recently, our core values had meant entrepreneurship, free enterprise and our can-do attitude towards business and life in general.

Now, some people prefer to redefine our core values as the rule of law, freedom of speech and tolerance. They are what make us special. That’s all very well.

But what is troubling is that many of those who advocate the new political/democratic values are also behaving in ways that directly undermine or subvert them.

READ MORE: Hong Kong courtroom packed as 37 face rioting charges and are banned from entering parts of Mong Kok

The Mong Kok rioters who destroyed property and attacked police officers were obviously breaking the law. Yet, you have Civic Party politicians blaming the police for the riot. You have university student unions – University of Hong Kong, Chinese University, Lingnan and Baptist universities – actually defending the rioters as rebels and heroes fighting against government oppression.

What oppression? Do our university students seriously think they or the rioters are being oppressed by government forces? If they think that, they simply do not understand what political oppression really is. At best, they may claim they are being ignored, and so are justified in throwing a temper tantrum and causing a bloody riot.

READ MORE: Hong Kong’s ‘fishball revolution’ is a load of bull, but there’s no denying the dangers of marginalising angry young people

Baptist University students even quoted celebrated Japanese author Haruki Murakami’s words about standing on the side of the egg that breaks against a high and solid wall. But who is trying to build a wall with all the talk about us being better than “them” and never becoming “just another Chinese city”? We are the wall builders with all the localist talks about mainland “contamination”.

Meanwhile, netizens have launched a boycott against hit movie From Vegas to Macau 3, not because it’s lousy – it is – but because of its pro-Beijing director Wong Jing, who has criticised Scholarism’s leader Joshua Wong Chi-fung. I suppose free speech only applies to those who agree with you.