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七一傳統 | The 1st July Legacy
約翰百德 (John BATTEN)
at 5:19pm on 25th July 2019


圖片說明:
2019年7月1日,身處金鐘道的示威者正前往立法會。

Caption:
Protesters on Queensway, Admiralty heading to the Legislative Council, 1 July 2019.



(Please scroll down for English version)

在本地與海外新聞媒體和網上平台上,有關香港逃犯條例立法與連串遊行的評論,包括意見、建議、分析與評論,都是詳盡無遺、前所未見的。而現在,我也來多加幾筆。

1997年後,7月1日這個香港特別行政區成立日,在香港回歸後首數年只是例行公眾假期。然而,一切在2003年7月1日的大型遊行後便完全改變。那一年,香港在沙士肆虐後首次有大量民眾上街、張國榮自殺、還有關於市民反對23條立法的激烈辯論。7月1日那天,超過50萬人(老實說,應該是近百萬)市民走上街頭抒發對政府的不滿(有點似曾相識?)。然後,在政府手忙腳亂之間(有點似曾相識?),大批市民在翌年同一天再次上街。

2003年走到街上的市民,數字之多令政府驚訝,在遊行過後多天,只目瞪口呆得未能向公眾回應(有點似曾相識?)。然而,北京對香港施政的根本態度在此時出現了改變。當時的故事,據說是董建華和其他官員對北京保證這次有規劃的遊行規模不會很大,而且無關重要。然而,這個建議在七一當天卻證明大錯特錯,近乎自欺欺人,更一清二楚地顯示董建華政府對公眾意見完全摸不著頭腦(有點似曾相識?)。北京發現自己被蒙蔽後的幾天,派了自己的人南下香港查個究竟,而憑著良好的鑑證調查情報,他們不僅和政府與支持者對話,也與學者、商界和民主陣營的主要成員會面。他們真的很想知道為什麼有這麼多人上街;他們想瞭解香港人的不滿。

由那天起,中聯辦(北京在香港的眼睛和耳朵)更加緊密留意香港政府的一言一行。然而,從上個月連串事件看來,中聯辦似乎未有對民意同樣警惕。這是一國兩制適用的地方:中聯辦通常只處理中央政府與政治事宜,而香港內部事宜和公眾意見,則由香港政府管員與本港的政府部門來處理。

林鄭月娥被標籤為傲慢,因為她未有與公眾會面、也沒有處理示威者向政府提出的五大訴求(例如撤回逃犯條例修訂;設立獨立調查委員會審視2019年6月12日警方在金鐘行動等)。然而,除了是傲慢(儘管也可能是因素之一!),政府對於與示威者會面不作讓步,卻是來自中聯辦的指令。這次拒絕與示威者見面的做法,與雨傘運動時的做法十分相近,是對泛民陣營採取強硬態度的其中一部份,其他措施還包括在現屆立法會期間,以技術上不正確宣誓為由取消了民選立法議員的資格。

公眾在過去5年,默默看著建制支持者這些強硬手法。而任何侵奪香港僅餘民主制度的做法,都被視為侵害香港的核心價值。市民對政府的不滿還有很多:受聘司機駕駛的汽車不斷在擠塞的交通黑點違例雙線泊車、公共醫院病房床位不足、輪候時間超長等基本民生問題。提出修訂逃犯條例可以說是「壓垮駱駝的最後一根稻草」,這項令人無法接受的政策令市民震驚,令他們以自己的行動公開表達不滿與反對。自6月9日以來,大批市民走到街上,一次又一次地以聰明而持續的方式加強反對聲音,因為市民知道政府以為民怨會隨著時間慢慢消退。

自2005年以來,政府早已視一年一度的七一遊行為必需在下午封路的日子,但卻沒有什麼需要過份緊張,因為示威者也許有抒發不滿情緒後,但卻沒有激進地要求收回政策。所有人到了7月2日照常回到工作崗位,繼續生活。即使是通常在7月1日早上組織令人刮目看的銀樂隊遊行的法輪功,也可以忽視。

2019年7月1日,我由銅鑼灣開始遊行,到達金鐘道後,我可以選擇繼續前往遮打花園這個官方終點,或者轉右走向立法會,就如其中一個標語這樣寫著:「支持學生,這邊請」。我轉向了右邊,然後站在很好的位置,看到警方從保護立法會大樓的出入口與大堂間撤退;而後看見示威者衝門而進。我問過那些在我身邊同樣看著情況的人怎樣想。一位銀行職員說他是「中立」的,另一位退休人士覺得「一半一半」,當時很少人馬上譴責破壞行動。根據數天後的調查結果顯示,各人反應是一致的。市民有更強、更具凌駕性、更迫切的理由去憤怒,就如一星期後在尖沙咀的七七遊行期間一些橫額所示的一樣:「沒有暴動,只有暴政」、「警察槍擊孩子」、「警察槍擊記者 」、「香港加油」、「五項訴求」、「特赦七一立法會運動人士」、「團結」。

2019年後,香港每年的七一遊行有了新的基準,儘管我們都不想同樣事情再次重演。

所以,現在開始對話吧?


原文刊於《明報周刊》,2019年7月19日




The 1st July Legacy

by John Batten


The commentary about Hong Kong’s extradition legislation and rallies in local and overseas news media and online platforms has been extraordinary. Opinion, advice, analysis and commentary has been exhaustive – and, now I add a few more lines.

The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Establishment Day on 1st July was for a few years after 1997 just a perfunctory public holiday. But everything changed after the huge 1st July march of 2003, the first public gathering of people after the city’s shared trauma of SARS, Leslie Cheung’s suicide, and amid vigorous debate about and public opposition to the introduction of Article 23 legislation. On that day, over 500,000, but – let’s be honest - closer to a million, people took to the streets to vent their frustration with the government (sounds familiar?). And, amidst government dithering (sounds familiar?), the people turned out again in huge numbers exactly one year later.

The huge number of people taking to the streets in 2003 surprised the government, who were so dumbstruck no public comment was made until many days after the march (sounds familiar?). But it was in Beijing that fundamental attitudes to the administration of Hong Kong shifted. The story goes at the time, that Beijing had been assured by Tung Chee-hwa and his officials that this planned march would be small and inconsequential. On the day, however, this advice was seen to be so drastically wrong, almost deluded, that it patently demonstrated that the Tung administration were completely out of touch with public opinion (sounds familiar?). Within days of this perceived hoodwink, Beijing sent their own people down to Hong Kong to find out, and with good forensic investigative diligence, they talked, not just to the government and its supporters, but met academics, business leaders and key members of the democratic camp. They really wanted to know why people marched in such numbers; they wanted to know about Hong Kong’s grievances.

From that day, the Liaison Office – Beijing’s eyes and ears in Hong Kong – kept closer tabs on the Hong Kong government. However, it seems they haven’t – in the light of the past month’s events - kept a similar vigilance on public opinion. This is where ‘one country, two systems’ is applied – the Liaison Office generally deals with government and politics, and domestic issues and opinions of the public are dealt with Hong Kong government officials and its own bodies.

Carrie Lam has been labelled arrogant for not meeting the public and dealing with the five demands that protesters have given the government to address (e.g. completely withdraw the extradition legislation; set-up an enquiry into police actions in Admiralty on 12 June 2019, etc). However, rather than arrogance (although it may be a factor!), government intransigence to meet protesters is a directive from the Liaison Office. This refusal to meet protesters follows a similar pattern seen during the Umbrella protests and is part of a determined hardline attitude towards the pro-democracy camp that included the disqualification of elected legislators for technically taking incorrect oaths for the current Legislative Council.

Such hardline tactics by pro-government supporters have been quietly noted by the public over the last five years. And, any attack on Hong Kong’s remaining democratic institutions is seen as an attack on Hong Kong’s core values. The public has a long list of grievances with the government, ranging from the smallest (such as persistent double-parking by chauffeur-driven cars in crowded traffic black spots) to fundamental livelihood issues (such as overcrowded public hospital wards and long waiting-lists for public housing). The introduction of the extradition legislation was the ‘straw that broke the camel’s back’ – an unacceptable policy that shocked the public into taking their own action to publicly vent displeasure and opposition. Starting on 9 June, people marched in huge numbers on the streets, and then marched again and again – a smart continuing reinforcement of opposition knowing that government thinks public opinion will wane over time.

Since 2005, the now-annual July 1st march has been recognized by the government as a necessary day of afternoon road closures, but nothing too much to worry about – grievances may be aired but radical policy reversals were never forced by protesters. Everyone went back to work on July 2nd and got on with it. Even the Falun Gong, who usually organize an impressive brass band parade on the morning of July 1st can be ignored.

On 1st July 2019, I marched from Causeway Bay and at Queensway had a choice to continue straight to Chater Garden, the official end of the march, or, turn right towards the Legislative Council and, as one sign said, “support students, this way”. I turned right, and later had an excellent view of police withdrawing from protecting the LegCo entrance and lobby; and then watched as some protesters smashed their way in. I enquired about the reaction of those around me who were also watching. A bank employee said he was “neutral”, a retiree felt “half half” – there was little outright condemnation of the destruction. This reaction was common, according to surveys done a few days later. The public had much stronger, over-riding, immediate reasons to be angry – as again expressed on banners displayed a week later at the 7 July march starting in Tsim Sha Tsui: “No riot, only tyranny”; “Police shot our kids”; “Police shot the journalists”; “Stand up for Hong Kong”; “5 Demands ar”; “Amnesty for July 1st LegCo activists”; “Together we stand”.

After 2019, Hong Kong’s annual 1st July march has a new benchmark – and it is not something we wish repeated.

So, start talking?



This article was originally published in Ming Pao Weekly on 19 July 2019. Translated from the original English by Aulina Chan.



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