Show us a plan if you want a revolution in Hong Kong
Our young people are no doubt better at capturing Pikachu than PLA soldiers, but don’t laugh off their anger
You say you want a revolution. You say you’ll change the constitution. Well, you know, we’d all love to see the plan.
What you’ve just read are selected lyrics from John Lennon’s 1968 hit song Revolution. Who would have thought that nearly 50 years later those words would come back to haunt our politics? Revolution is in the air. Doubters need only open their eyes to what happened so brazenly close to government headquarters last weekend. Thousands converged on Tamar Park for Hong Kong’s first ever independence rally where leaders electrified them with talk of a revolution. They even urged supporters to infiltrate the government, especially the police. Heady stuff.
Call me a soothsayer but this is what I wrote six years ago: there’s anger in the streets. People, mostly demoralised young adults, feel they have been suckered for too long by the old order. Beijing should be scared. Property developers who squeeze every last dollar out of hard-pressed families should be scared. All those tai-tais cruising upscale malls for designer handbags should be scared. So wake up and smell the revolution.
People laughed me off at the time. No one’s laughing now. Hong Kong’s nascent independence movement has so spooked the central and local governments that they even used what many consider dirty politics to bar independence advocates from contesting next month’s Legislative Council elections. Before Occupy few imagined that normally docile Hongkongers would seize key districts for 79 days. Before the Mong Kok riots few believed our youths took self-rule so seriously they would start fires, hurl bricks and attack police.
Now they’re threatening a revolution unless Beijing changes the constitution to allow self-determination. But what kind of revolution? Mahatma Gandhi’s civil disobedience or Nelson Mandela’s guerrilla warfare? The 2014 “umbrella movement” didn’t make Beijing blink. Now civil disobedience has flopped, dare our independence fighters raise the stakes to armed revolt? They have shown they don’t fear the local police, but what match are they against the might of the People’s Liberation Army?
As Lennon said all those years ago, show us the plan if you want a revolution. There isn’t one. Our young revolutionaries are no doubt better at capturing Pikachu than PLA soldiers. But just talking about revolution has already taken Hong Kong where it has never gone before. Revolutions need not succeed to cause turmoil. So don’t make the mistake again of laughing it off.