Hong Kong’s freedoms are alive and kicking
For some politicians who warn against the city going down the drain under mainland rule, perhaps they should look at recent events – from Maoists to Falun Gong practitioners peacefully marching on our streets
Say what you like about the erosion of freedom in Hong Kong, but two events this month show we still enjoy fundamental civil liberty.
Dozens of hard-core Maoists from the mainland came here for a rally to mark the 52nd anniversary of the start of the Cultural Revolution. Wearing Maoist uniforms and waving hammer-and-sickle flags, the ideologues and their supporters marched down streets in Kowloon and held cultural events to promote class struggle and the ending of private ownership, and to criticise the Chinese Communist Party’s “liberal” economic reforms.
Why did they come to Hong Kong? Because they were banned from organising such events on the mainland.
Earlier this month, hundreds of Falun Gong worshippers staged a parade in Causeway Bay wearing their signature yellow T-shirts. They carried giant banners denouncing China’s rulers and calling for the destruction of the Communist Party.
The occasion? It was the 19th World Falun Dafa Day, the 26th anniversary of Falun Dafa’s introduction in China, and the 67th birthday of its founder, Li Hongzhi, all rolled into one day.
“This [march] was approved and protected by the Hong Kong police. But it’d be impossible to think of doing the same on the mainland,” a Maoist leader told the South China Morning Post.
A Falun Gong marcher could have said the same.
More than a hundred of the sect’s followers also staged a mass spiritual exercise at Edinburgh Place, which is within spitting distance of the headquarters of the Hong Kong government and the People’s Liberation Army. No, the government didn’t send in SWAT teams nor did the PLA roll out tanks to break up the gathering.
In fact, most of the Falun Gong practitioners seemed to have a jolly good time, judging from photos posted on their blogs, Facebook and news sites.
Some passers-by looked on with curiosity, most people just ignored them. The congratulatory messages sent to Li from retired Catholic Cardinal Joseph Zen Ze-kiun and several pan-democratic politicians proved to be more controversial than the rally itself.
You could hardly find two more opposing ideologies than Falun Gong and Maoism, yet both find refuge in the city.
For some politicians who fly to London and Washington at the drop of a hat to warn against Hong Kong going down the drain under mainland rule, perhaps they should stop exaggerating and present a more nuanced account of the realities of the city.