Seen hanging at the entrance to the Hong Kong SAR
Central Government Offices this past weekend
Tents have been pitched right near the entrance
of the Legislative Council Complex
A plea many Hong Kongers would like to make
Years ago, when I was still living in the US, I was told something about Hong Kong which I had no reason to believe was untrue: i.e., that it was a place where the most admired man was not a politician (like, say, Nelson Mandela) nor sportsperson nor entertainment personality, as often is the case elsewhere in the world, but, instead, a rich tycoon. Indeed, Li Ka Shing was held in such awe that he was nicknamed Superman by Hong Kongers!
Part of the reason this was the case, I was also told, was because many people saw Li Ka Shing's story as an aspirational inspiration. A self-made man who came from humble beginnings, he was a teacher's son who came to Hong Kong as a refugee and was a salesman before, through hard work, building a business empire.
In recent years, however, things have skewed so much in favor of the already (mega) rich that no Hong Konger I know believes anymore that anyone could have the career path that Li Ka Shing followed all those years ago -- with the current political system in place being very much a part of the socio-economic problem.
And the particular irony here is that things have happened so quickly that often times, its people from humble beginnings but who are now part of the 1% -- like former policemen's sons Donald Tsang and Leung Chun Ying -- who appear to be very much at the forefront of those trying to bar other people's path to economic success or even just to a comfortable point in life which involves having a real career and owning a flat.
Put another way: these people seem to have come to think like the pigs in George Orwell's prescient Animal Farm: that all animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.
Looking back at recent history, I think it pretty interesting that when the Occupy movement swept the world back in 2011-2012, it wasn't a bigger deal in Hong Kong as in certain other parts of the world -- though having said that, the original Occupy Central did last for 11 months, making it one of the lengthiest Occupy movements in the world.
I think part of the reason is that for many people here, it seemed that the 2011-2012 Occupy Central was too much like a copy cat of what was going on elsewhere whereas, in contrast, the Umbrella Movement feels like a very Hong Kong thing -- stemming out of particular Hong Kong concerns and evoking responses that also are culturally distinctive.
And when many Hong Kongers (including what looks to amount to a whole young generation) no longer feel that they can pursue the very Hong Kong dream embodied by Li Ka Shing's non-fictional story, then, it truly feels, we've got a real problem -- one that, to rub salt to Hong Konger wounds, people clearly and strongly feel that 689 is not up to solving.