25 November 2014

Million Dollar Question: What’s Next for the Umbrella Movement? 有獎競猜: 雨傘運動何去何從?


A week ago, a small army of masked men gathered outside the Legco Building in Admiralty in the dead of night. They were upset over a copyright amendment bill that they feared would limit the freedom of expression on the Internet. The angry men smashed a pair of glass doors at the building's north entrance and urged other protesters nearby to occupy the legislature. Not sure whether to take orders from these strangers, the students didn’t heed their call. Instead, they notified the site marshals to block the break-in. Minutes later, police moved in with pepper spray and batons, and the agitators fled the scene.

Troublemakers or do they have a point?


The clumsy “wreck-and-run” operation has touched off a political firestorm for the Umbrella Movement. Since the incident, self-proclaimed “netizens” began showing up in Admiralty every night to settle the scores for what happened that night. The challengers question the Hong Kong Federation of Students' (HKFS) ability to lead and the marshals' legitimacy to thwart their operations. They argue that Alex Chow (周永康) and his college buddies have grown far too comfortable sleeping in their tents and are now standing in the way of the fight for democracy. Not since the Lung Wo Road police clash a month ago have tensions in Admiralty been this high.

We don't know who the masked men and their supporters are – whether they are concerned citizens or members of nativist group Civic Passion (熱血公民) wanting their 15 minutes of fame. What we do know, however, is that there is now a protest within the protest, and a revolution within the revolution. The emergence of a splinter group has laid bare a critical question facing the HKFS: should they raise the stakes instead of indefinitely prolonging the street occupation?

Challengers of the student leadership


Indeed, the Umbrella Movement seems to have hit a plateau – or stuck in a rut, depending on your views. Protesters have been camping out on the city’s arteries for nearly two months. Even though stories of students doing homework at makeshift libraries and volunteers recycling water bottles into handicrafts were commendable, critics feel that the campaign is veering off track. At some point, denizens of Umbrellaville need to wake up to the reality that occupying city streets is a means rather than an end, and that their ultimate goal is universal suffrage and not some eco-friendly utopian lifestyle. As much as some of us would like the movement to go on forever, it has to end someday, somehow.

No one understands that better than the student leaders. A recent poll conducted by the University of Hong Kong found that 83% of citizens wanted the students to go home. What’s more, 68% would like the government to clear the sites if they don’t do so voluntarily. The rapid shift in public opinion now leaves the leadership with three options: (A) vacate, (B) negotiate, or (C) escalate

Umbrellaville


I take no issues with option A. In the past, I have argued that the success of Occupy Central as a post-modern political movement is measured not only by tangible results but also by the social awakening it brings about. On that account, the students have already achieved a great deal by arousing young people's interest in local politics. Packing it in at this point should not be viewed as a failure, but a chance to regroup and re-strategize. Considering how politically sensitized the city has become, Hong Kongers will be ready to re-deploy on a moment’s notice for the next chapter in our fight for democracy. These views notwithstanding, many protesters find the first option anticlimactic and even defeatist. They believe that going home now would kill both their momentum and the dwindling leverage they have over Beijing. 

Turning to option B, neither the government nor the student leadership has sat down since the 21 October talks, where both sides seemed more interested in addressing television viewers than each other. Whether we like it or not, the best way – and perhaps the only way – to break the political impasse is to talk constructively about the composition of the nominating committee as stipulated in Article 45 of the Basic Law. While that is a pragmatic solution, it also requires enormous political courage from the student leaders. Conceding to a committee-based nomination mechanic would be considered by some protesters a compromise on principles. And compromise, like it is in American politics, has become a dirty word in Hong Kong these days. Between paying a political price and maintaining the status quo, the leadership has so far chosen the latter.

Feels more like a high school debate


That leaves them with option C. As is the case for many anti-government uprisings, there is nowhere to go but up. To raise the stakes, the HKFS can take a page from the classic student activism manual: picket, besiege or commandeer government buildings, just like what students in Taiwan did during the SunflowerMovement. But to pull off a major operation like that requires careful planning, skillful execution and, most of all, public support. Absent a catalyst like the 28 September deployment of tear gas to galvanize the city, any attempt to up the ante would alienate the silent majority and end up like last weeks half-baked operation to storm the Legco Building – it would be doomed to fail.

Many have poured their hearts into the Umbrella Movement. Two months in and with the protests now showing cracks, it is time protesters used that other muscle to figure out a way forward. There is no cash prize for answering the question of “what’s next,” but there is a high price to pay if they don’t.

The spark that started it all

___________________________

This article also appears on SCMP.com under Jason Y. Ng's column "As I See It."


As posted on SCMP.com


32 comments:

  1. Like the Pied Piper of Hamelin, perhaps our Dumb, Dumber and Dumbest of Hong Kong should lead the protesters down Victoria Harbor.

    ReplyDelete
  2. "There is now a protest within a protest, and a revolution within a revolution"

    This is exactly the western democracy which causes chaos, poverty and civil wars in countries like Syria, Libya, Iraq, Thailand, Ukraine, Philippines, Afghanistan, Turkey, Egypt, India, etc.

    Million dollars question need million dollars answer. Invest more than one million dollars to pass article 23, then all problems will be solved and HK will be in peace and prosperous as a financial hub forever.

    Chris

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. ...like Syria, Libya, Iraq, Thailand, Ukraine, Philippines, Afghanistan, Turkey, Egypt, India, etc.

      Do yourself a favor by enrolling a course in History in HKU and asked Benny Tai's colleagues to teach you. You can apply for HK$10,000 subsidy from the Government.

      Delete
    2. DO YOU KNOW YOU WILL GO TO HELL FOR WRITING SOMETHING LIKE THAT. ACT LIKE CIVILIZED HUMAN BEING.
      You are a fool. Throughout thousands years of human history, Chinese are true human right protectors.

      The human right you are referring is the "western people human rights", specifically refer to "western people's right for high living standards" through killing billions of other people in last hundreds years.

      Look at the world, it is all western people having wars murdering billions people and it is still happening today!

      Chinese human rights are truly representing the "whole world human rights".

      If you are not a western, then you better kill yourself in order to protect "western people human right". If you are a western, then I perfectly understand your logic.

      Delete
    3. Oops, I do not want to end up shouting in street.

      Chris

      Delete
  3. Million dollar question: What’s next for the Umbrella Movement?
    .
    Answer: Ask NED for another million dollars.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. For those who keep on saying there is foreign influence, why there is no arrest of those foreign evils let alone the name of those organizations were not mentioned by HK Government? Why China did not take it up with US or NED? These foreign influence provides cover for Chinese government to (1) save face (2) divert its own citizens attention away from rampant corruption, inteensive power struggle, high pollution, a slow down economy (7.3% GDP in Q3/14)....

      People talking about foreign influence just remind Boxer Rebellion in 1900, Cultural Revolution in 1967 and anti Japanese mitiltarism in 2013.. all are govenment propangda to divert attention from local problems Chinese leadership cannot solve.

      Delete
  4. "As much as some of us would like the movement to go on forever" -- so you are part of the problem and not the solution.

    You can keep your opinion for yourself and if your intention is to try to convince anyone of anything,you have the OC address : Admiralty between the barricades and the barricades.

    ReplyDelete
  5. While the sites may be cleared, the spirits of the protestors will go on.

    Sincerely, hope Oslo should consider Joshu Wong, Chow Wing Hong, Benny Tai etc. as potential candidates for Nobel Peace Prize. They are not only in the same rank of Malala but also exhibit the brighest side of Chinese - DEMOCRACY NOW AND SLAVE NO MORE.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Obama also won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2009 - ****www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/10/09/obama-wins-nobel-peace-pr_n_314907.html.

      In your opinion, you think Obama deserves the peace prize? When he did not create peace, but more chaos not only in the Middle East, but also in the Pacific region with his Asia Pivot to contain China.

      Joshua Wong, Chow Wing Hong, Benny Tai etc already lost the support of majority of Hongkoners and you think they deserve the Nobel Prize???

      Delete
  6. How about mass self-immolation? Kill 2 birds with 1 stone... The protesters will get their message across loud and clear, as the media will be all over it and it will be remembered forever in the history books.... HK will then go back to being a peaceful city again with the protesters gone... win-win for all.. except maybe the protesters themselves.. but sometimes sacrifices will have to be made...

    Fung

    ReplyDelete
  7. Ask Benny and his garbage colleague aka professors who are not very likely to survive in a reality, whose expertise is coming up with crack pot theories? That explains why you are so screwed up to the core.

    I have been to 4 of those countries listed and I can tell you that THERE IS NOTHING THEY HAVE BETTER THAN IN HONG KONG EVEN WITH THEIR (CORRUPTED) DEMOCRATIC SYSTEMS.

    Henry

    ReplyDelete
  8. Million dollar question: What’s next for the Umbrella Movement? Ask Jimmy Lai and the British and US for many more millions. Apart from that take the umbrellas and shove it up the OC protesters arse!!!!!

    Matsui

    ReplyDelete
  9. Garbage compactor will be a good place for all the umbrellas of this illegal vandalism.

    ReplyDelete
  10. From now on, HK, the freest economy in the world has political prisoners.

    These 80 protestors together with others will be prosecuted because they are asking Chinese government for genuine democracy. Take a look of China’s human right record, China executes more people each year than any other country and while official statistics remain secret, Amnesty International’s figures show that China executed at least 1,718 people in 2008, nearly three-quarters (72%) of the world’s executions. People are detained in "Re-education Through Labour" camps for up to four years without any trial, often with harsh conditions. It is frequently used against petty criminals, critics of the government or followers of banned beliefs.

    This human right record’s of China will mirror what will happen to HK.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Whats next? The yellow guards and their blind supporter aka the author have done so much damage on the reputation on "democracy" it pretty much set back the once meaningful democracy movement back to stage 1.
    So what next? How about starting from scratch again?

    Seems like after Szeto Wah passed away there is no one sane in the Pan Dems with the exception of Ronny Tong.

    Henry

    ReplyDelete
  12. While the OC movement may end, but as an ordinary HK people, we do have the following concerns: statistics on genocide among world records to guage whether our fear on China's human right record should be substantiated:

    (1) Mongolians (one of the 5 main ethnicities of China now) killed about 200 million (different races including Chinese in the South Sung Dynasty) in 12 century

    (2) Mao killed about 80 million (100% Chinese) from 1949 to 1976 ( a poster argued is about 40M to 60M)

    (3) Stalin of Soviet Union killed about 50 million (primarily Russian + Eastern European)

    (4) Hilter killed about 30 million (including the 6 million Jews)

    Hilter did not even make into number 3.

    ReplyDelete
  13. We would never give up, the show will go on, only the theatre is changed.

    Michael

    ReplyDelete
  14. Long-term and consistent local outreach (DAB fears this sort of stuff [like the plague] taking root in neighbourhoods where they have long held onto District Council seats without much of any defeat for many years) is one method. Rough but actually a very effective initiative in the long run - crucial at this point, especially with District Council elections coming up next year.

    Peggy

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. But not if most citizens can't think beyond their daily conveniences.

      Jason

      Delete
  15. Take care every body.

    Bob

    ReplyDelete
  16. This had to have a backer, but who?

    Ross

    ReplyDelete
  17. What can you do when the other party don't want to talk to you, so negotiation is out. If I have to pick between vacate and escalate, I would pick escalate; the question is how? What can we do to make those government officials hurts that they have to face the real issue?

    Peggy

    ReplyDelete
  18. Sigh! So upset now....but won't give up!

    Miu Lee

    ReplyDelete
  19. Yvonne 霸氣娘娘-梁麗幗Yvonne Leung might not have her license yet, but she did so much better than Maggie Chan of DAB (who cowardly dodged every question directed at her).

    Peggy

    ReplyDelete
  20. 名師出高徒!

    Ying

    ReplyDelete
  21. Sigh! What a crazy government.......how can the government clear our hearts.....

    Miu Lee

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Never, as long as the group of clowns are in power. Power hungry, capitalist bigots that they are.

      Ying

      Delete
  22. I think that whatever happens, the people who participated in this will never forget it. And that means that ultimately change has to come.

    Fiona

    ReplyDelete
  23. The Democratic Progressive Party of Taiwan have the Hong Kong Police to thank. Election is this coming Saturday.

    Alan

    ReplyDelete
  24. The HK police are being used to solve political and social problems and divide. This will fail! You can remove physical barriers but U cannot remove people's spirit for freedom. In fact it will only grow even stronger

    Ian

    ReplyDelete
  25. Watch yourself out there Jason ... be safe.

    Jonn

    ReplyDelete