Exercising the very freedoms they say they are losing
US senator Marco Rubio invited the likes of Joshua Wong Chi-fung and Martin Lee Chu-ming to a congressional hearing into the alleged erosion of freedom and autonomy in Hong Kong. But are Wong and Lee any less free in Hong Kong than they would be if they were living in the US?
Imagine a few members of the National People’s Congress have developed a sudden interest in racial violence and civil right violations in the United States. To get a more accurate and objective picture before calling for laws to punish US officials guilty of such crimes, they invite to a hearing an all-star cast that includes numerous leaders of Black Lives Matter and African-American victims of police brutality. It’s a foregone conclusion what they would say.
Well, that was what happened this week, in Washington. It doesn’t take much of an imaginative leap to guess the rather transparent agenda of US junior senator Marco Rubio. To get an understanding of the alleged erosion of freedom and autonomy in Hong Kong after the 1997 handover, he and his Capitol Hill friends invited to a congressional hearing the likes of activist Joshua Wong Chi-fung, Democratic Party founding chairman Martin Lee Chu-ming and Lam Wing-kee, one of the once-missing booksellers, and former governor Chris Patten.
They ended up saying exactly what you would expect them to say, which was that our freedoms and autonomy were being flushed down the Chinese toilet. At least our last colonial governor didn’t bother to fly to Washington and only talked through a video link, thereby saving himself a plane ticket and, for Planet Earth, a more harmful carbon footprint.
Are Wong and Lee any less free in Hong Kong than they would be if they were living in the US? They can fly in and out of the city, and criticise and agitate against the local and central governments with virtual impunity. And that includes saying they are losing those very freedoms while exercising them unhindered, with their views and their US visit reported freely in major local news outlets. They are denying the very conditions of freedom that make it possible for them to jump in bed with the Americans in the first place.
As for our new chief executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor, at least 250,000 Hongkongers voted for members of the Election Committee that chose her. And everyone could have voted for or against her if pan-democratic lawmakers didn’t vote down the last universal suffrage package. Now, who voted for Patten to be our governor?
My sympathy is only with Lam Wing-kee. Clearly, his civil and legal rights were violated, and he could not seek redress in Hong Kong or on the mainland. I would not blame him for trying to seek justice for himself and others in the US, the UN, The Hague or anywhere else.