Public Eye

Riot reality: denouncing mob violence of Mong Kok doesn’t make me a pro-China shoeshiner

Pampered pan-democrats have little in common with idols who fought real oppression

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 23 February, 2016, 5:11pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 23 February, 2016, 5:13pm

Let’s talk about being pro-China. To do that, Public Eye will switch to the first person. I have often been labelled pro-establishment or pro-China. The two are interchangeable in Hong Kong’s political lexicon. But after the Mong Kok riot, the label is being hurled at me as an expletive. In Hong Kong’s noxious politics, you are a Beijing shoeshiner unless you shoeshine the so-called democracy camp. I denounced the rioters as brick-hurling mobs who started fires, smashed windows and bludgeoned a downed policeman. I mocked legislator Cyd Ho Sau-lan for blaming the Mong Kok mayhem entirely on bad governance.

How does denouncing violence make me pro-China? Am I pro-establishment if I say it sickened me that the rioters put bricks under fire engines to stop firefighters from dousing flames that threatened residents?

Pan-democrats often cite Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King as idols. Both fought real oppression, unlike our pampered democrats. Both shunned violence. Would that make them shoeshiners if they were alive today?

Am I pro-China if I point out that Ray Wong Toi-yeung, convenor of the localist group Hong Kong Indigenous, was in a flat with bomb-making chemicals, weapons, drugs and over half a million dollars in cash when police arrested him in connection with the riots? I have often said I take no issue with Hong Kong Indigenous for opposing parallel goods traders and the flood of mainlanders who have made life hell for Hongkongers. I have said the central authorities damaged one country, two systems by detaining bookseller Lee Po and that he should be promptly freed. I have said the central government is clueless about Hong Kong’s values 19 years after the handover. I have repeatedly criticised our unfair society where a handful of tycoons dominate.

But that is not enough for the so-called democrats. I am pro-China unless I agree that bad governance is totally to blame for the riots. Those who label me pro-China even mock me for having an American passport. What’s that got to do with anything? I am a loyal American and will gladly shine the shoes of my country’s great democracy but never the shoes of the so-called democrats here.

Friends have urged me not to stare down the dirty looks I now sometimes get on the MTR. But that would be giving in to hypocrites who say they want true democracy yet won’t let others have an opinion.

I don’t intend to give in. So bring it on.