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Showing posts from October, 2014

Searching for Umbrella Man 尋找雨傘人

Edward arrived at the vehicle-free Connaught Road expressway and surveyed the Admiralty protest site, which, until then, he had only seen on CNN. It was 18 October, Day 20 of the largest political event in Hong Kong’s post-Handover history. The 40-year-old law firm partner had just returned from a business trip in London that had kept him out of town for the last two weeks. He climbed over the median barrier and studied the wall of pro-democracy signage written in a few dozen languages. From his elevated vantage point, he could see metal barricades blocking major arteries that connect the financial district to the rest of the city. Protesters had reinforced the roadblocks with garbage cans, wood pallets and water-filled barriers, held together with household cable ties. He took out his phone to snap a few shots, and heaved a sigh.
Xiaobing would turn 15 in a few days and Nai-nai, his grandmother, had baked him his favorite sweet buns. The evening before, Xiaobing had biked the five-…

The Dark Before Dawn 黎明前的黑暗

Tear gas and pepper spray were so last week.
On Friday, Day 6 of the Umbrella Movement, masked thugs fanned out at all three protest sites across the city, starting with Mongkok and quickly spreading to Causeway Bay. By nightfall, angry mobs had moved into the movement's nerve center in Admiralty. They called themselves “pro-Hong Kong citizens” — vigilantes who had self-organized to clear the streets and restore public order. They had taken matters into their own hands because they believed the cops had been too lenient toward the students.

I had arrived in Admiralty earlier the evening to offer protesters free help with homework. I was telling the stories of Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King, Jr. to two university freshmen, when my phone started to buzz with ominous text messages. “The Triads are heading your way. Stay Safe!” a reporter friend warned. “Leave Admiralty NOW, and remove any yellow ribbons on you,” said another. The yellow ribbon was a symbol of the occupy movement,…

Worst of Times, Best of Times 最壞的時代 最好的時光

It was Day 3 of Occupy Central, now known across the globe as the Umbrella Revolution. Umbrellas and raincoats, the humblest of household objects, had been thrust onto the world stage, as had the tens of thousands of students who used them to fend off a police crackdown on Sunday. Tonight, their trusty rain gear would be needed once again – the Hong Kong Observatory had issued a rain and landslide alert for a coming thunderstorm.

I changed out of my work clothes in my office in Central and walked to Admiralty, the de facto nerve center of the student-led movement demanding the right to choose our leader. I spotted my brother Kelvin and his wife deep in the crowd. They were listening quietly to a student speaker on the podium. It was a small miracle that I was able to find them, as they were swarmed by people as far as the eye could see, all dressed in black. No one knew how many more had come out tonight — nor did anyone really care. Public turnout normally mattered a great deal to p…