Hong Kong’s protesters have shown courage, creativity and thoughtfulness. Will the city still have a place for them when this is over?
- It’s one thing to disagree with the protesters, but simply listening to them shows they are not mere thugs and rioters
- Moreover, they may have done Hong Kong a service by exposing the ineptitude of our government and police
But the majority also happen to be well-educated, intelligent, energetic, enthusiastic, courageous, creative, thoughtful and all manner of other qualities, which seem in short supply among those in charge in our city.
If the authorities perceive them as troublemakers whose views don’t count, I’m sure that there are governments elsewhere only too happy to welcome their talents.
The protesters I encountered in North Point last week were thoughtful, kind and generous, and freely expressed their views. They were regrouping in the subway station after battling police and preparing for another fight. As I came out of the turnstiles, two approached and asked if they could help.
They advised against going to King’s Road, where tear-gas had been fired, and took me to a nearby restaurant to wait for the fumes to dissipate. During our discussion, I asked them about their plans, hopes and aspirations and their responses were measured and thoughtful.
Later, they guided me to a backstreet so that I could safely make my way home. As I arrived, the sounds of running, grinding of metal barricades, police sirens, loudhailers and then tear-gas canisters echoed from the street below.
What the end-game of the protesters is I’ve no idea; those I spoke to seemed confused themselves. But they’ve done a huge service to Hong Kong by showing, through their tactics, just how inept the government and police can sometimes be.
That leaves the people of the city in their 30s and younger in a difficult position, and especially those who have been on the front lines of the protests. They genuinely love Hong Kong and want to make it better, but if they are made to feel unwanted, they will have no choice but to go elsewhere. Those countries will be the winners and Hong Kong the loser.
Peter Kammerer is a senior writer at the Post