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發起人民的檢討 | Initiating a People’s Review
約翰百德 (John BATTEN)
at 9:43am on 26th July 2019


 

 

圖片說明:

立法會議員許志峰擔任中間人,意圖緩衝警方向示威者推進,攝於2019年7月21日,上環信德中心外。照片由作者提供。

Caption:
Legislator Hui Chi-fung acting as intermediary to placate police from advancing on protesters, outside Shun Tak Centre, Sheung Wan, 21 July 2019. Photo: John Batten



(Please scroll down for English version)


過去兩個月來,警察成為了香港政府唯一一個在前線接觸示威者的部門,這些示威者上街遊行,抗議命途多舛,現已擱置的逃犯條例修例,最終引發了連串示威。示威者的不滿現在已升級成為千絲萬縷的其他問題,包括對警察的敵對情況。其中情況最差的,要數林鄭月娥和她的班子,以至整個整府繼續不作行動,未有主動處理現時的政治危機。政府不與示威者或公眾溝通,只是受中聯辦指示。這招以往在雨傘示威時已曾採用,只是一場簡單的等待遊戲:等待示威者疲累、等待參與示威遊行人數漸漸消減、等待公眾對於道路被阻和日常生活受干擾而憤怒起來。然而,在我執筆之時,等待已不再是辦法。

2019年7月22日的事件,令整場風波完全轉向。在臨近傍晚時,「勇武」的蒙面示威者在中聯辦沾污國徽,令人想起1989年天安門毛澤東像被污損。憤怒情緒是一回事,智慧策略又是另一回事。在中聯辦外示威反映立場可以為人接受,但惡意毀壞國家主權的象徵卻只是愚蠢的挑釁,做法毫無半點好處,而未來若再出現任何類似行動,只會是玩火行為。這點「火」可以包括內地國安部隊介入香港。如果事情真的發生,便是對「一國兩制」基礎最根本、最有百害而無一利的變動。「一國兩制」是香港擁有高度自治、能獨立處理內部事務的憑證。任何內地國安介入都將會是香港的災難:我城的法治將即時中止;遊行與香港多種核心自由,包括集會與言論自由均不復存在。香港政府將降格成為傀儡,香港經濟更將螺旋式下滑。這種介人一旦發生,香港又怎能輕易復原建制、重獲自主和重建其作為穩定國際商業中心與安全成市的聲譽?

佔據香港道路的示威者、政客與政府本身,都應確保未來的示威不再貶低中央政府在香港的辦事處。如有需要,請站在勇武示威者與敏感的內地目標中間。

當天到了晚上9時,元朗的白衣黑社會惡棍無差別地野蠻襲擊無辜的旁觀者,他們本來是鎖定早前在港島遊行完畢回家的市民。元朗的Yoho商場、元朗港鐵站和港鐵車廂內出現前所未有的暴力場面。黑社會暴力在歷史上一直只限於幫會、罪犯和三合會本身的圈子,又或向著任何闖入他們世界的人(例如大耳窿追討欠款),而從未延伸至普羅大眾。因此,元朗發生的暴力可以從不同角度演繹:支持政府;元朗與上水被黑社會控制和依賴內地旅客地區內,利潤豐厚的跨境購物受示威影響的反應。也有人強烈認為惡棍都是受薪行事(部份來自境外對岸),目的是營造恐懼氣氛,包括恐嚇市民不要參與反政府遊行。

警方在示威當中備受攻擊。他們被夾在熱血示威者與無動於衷的政府之間。然而,他們現在也成為了強烈不滿的目標。自連串示威展開以來,行使警力的策略與使用催淚彈、橡膠子彈和胡椒噴霧的做法備受(合理的)質疑。他們衝入沙田新城市廣場追捕示威者,與圍堵警員同僚的人士對峙,是毫無紀律的報復而不是任何合理和平的手法。他們的行動令人不禁提出這個問題:這是濫用警力或是無能?然後,雖然市民在3小時內撥出了24,000通要求警方支援的緊急求救電話,警察卻遲遲未有現身對付元朗暴徒,至警方最後到場時,所有肇事人士已作鳥獸散。數天後,儘管有大量閉路電視和智能手機拍下片段可認出元兇, 只有幾名「小人物」被拘留,控以「非法集結罪」。市民要求警方揭露與這些黑社會暴徒有何關聯。問得公道,但答案只有在未來透過調查警方在遊行期間的行動才能找出來。然而,政府因為軟弱和/或不願意,所以一直未有展開相關調查。警察的角色不應在示威者的政治憤怒中首當其衝,警方同樣需要得到感性的考慮。

我們正處於政治危機之中。偶一不慎,香港的情況便會一發不可收拾。如果政府不能或不會從根源調查示威背後的不滿,那麼最低限度,讓我們自己展開一場市民自發的檢討,一同討論民主、2020年立法會大選實行普選,並在過去數星期的事件中找出錯誤之處:傳召證入、審視攝錄片段、尋找解決方法。民主派陣營有沒有一位領䄂可以展開這種檢討,又或者任何類似的行動?讓命運主宰結局,又或政府繼續不為所動,只會令危機繼續,直至一切崩壞。


原文刊於《明報周刊》,2019年8月2日



Initiating a People’s Review

by John Batten


Over the last two months the police have been the only arm of Hong Kong’s government that is, literally, in contact with the protesters who have marched against the ill-fated, now shelved, extradition legislation that triggered these protests. The protesters’ grievances have now escalated into a myriad of other issues, including against the police, but particularly against the continuing inaction of Carrie Lam and her ministers – the whole government – to actively deal with our current political crisis. The government is following instructions from the Liaison Office not to communicate with protesters or the public. This tactic, as previously seen during the Umbrella protests, is a simple waiting game: waiting for the protesters to tire; waiting for the numbers of people attending marches and rallies to subside; waiting for the public to be angry and angrier of closed roads and other daily disruptions. But, as I write, waiting is no longer an option.

The events of 21 July 2019 have already changed the course of the crisis. In the late afternoon, the defacing of the Chinese national emblem by masked ‘hardcore’ protesters at the Liaison Office recalls the splattering of Mao’s portrait in Tiananmen Square in 1989. There is anger and emotion and then there is smart strategizing. Demonstrating outside the Liaison Office is acceptable to air points of view, but vandalism of the symbols of national sovereignty is mindless provocation. There is no upside and any similar future action would be playing with fire. That ‘fire’ could include the intervention of mainland security forces in Hong Kong. If that were to happen it would be a fundamental, detrimental shift of the ‘one country, two systems’ basis on which Hong Kong justifies its autonomy, and its ability to independently deal with domestic issues. Any mainland security intervention would be a disaster for Hong Kong: the city’s rule of law would immediately be suspended; street demonstrations and many of Hong Kong’s core freedoms, including of assembly and expression, would be suspended. The Hong Kong government would be reduced to puppet status and Hong Kong’s economy would spiral downwards. After such an intervention, how could Hong Kong easily reinstate its institutions, regain its autonomy and rebuild its reputation as a stable international business city and safe place?

Hong Kong’s middle-of-the-road protesters, politicians and the government itself, should ensure in the coming weeks that future protests don’t again demean the Central government’s offices in Hong Kong. If necessary, stand between the hardcore protesters and sensitive mainland targets.

Later that day, in Yuen Long, after 9pm, white-shirted triad thugs indiscriminately and savagely attacked innocent bystanders, but supposedly targeted people thought to be protesters coming from the day’s earlier march in Hong Kong. Yuen Long’s Yoho shopping mall, the Yuen Long MTR station and inside a train saw unprecedented scenes of violence. Triad violence is historically restricted within gang, criminal and triad’s own circles, or towards anyone crossing into their world (e.g. owing money to a loan shark), it never extends into the general population. So, the violence seen in Yuen Long can be interpreted variously: as support for the government; anger that the protests have disrupted lucrative cross-border trade in Yuen Long and Sheung Shui controlled by triads and that rely on mainland visitors. Or, as has been strongly suggested, the thugs were paid (with some coming from across the border) to engender an atmosphere of fear, including intimidating people not to join protest marches against the government.

The police have been at the brunt of the protests. They are the meat in the sandwich – falling between passionate protesters and an inert government. However, now they are also a target of great grievances. Since the start of the protests, their policing strategy and use of tear gas, rubber bullets and pepper spray have, legitimately, been questioned. Their storming of Shatin’s New Town Plaza to chase and confront protesters who had surrounded their police colleagues was more ill-disciplined vengeance than any rational keeping of the peace. Their actions beg the question: is this overly aggressive policing or incompetence? Then, despite 24,000 emergency calls over a three-hour period made by the public requesting assistance, the police were unavailable to confront the Yuen Long thugs – eventually the police did attend, but only after all the thugs had fled. Days later, despite lots of CCTV and smartphone footage to identify the culprits, only a few ‘small potato’ thugs had been detained for “unlawful assembly”. The public then demanded to know what links the police have with these triad thugs. Fair question. Answers could only be forthcoming in an enquiry into police operations during the protests. However, the government is incapable, due to weakness and/or unwillingness, to initiate this. It is not the role of the police to take the brunt of protesters’ political anger – the police, too, need sensitive consideration.

We are in a political crisis. If the city is not careful, circumstances will unravel and take control. If the government can’t or won’t investigate the grievances at the root of the protests, then, at least, let’s begin a self-initiated People’s Review – to discuss democracy, universal suffrage for the Legislative Council elections in 2020; and look at the wrongs of the last weeks: calling witnesses, review videos, look for solutions. Is there a leader in the pro-democracy camp to kick-start such a review - or something, anything, similar? Leaving things to fate – or, government inaction – allows the crisis to continue, until it crashes.


This opinion piece was originally published in Ming Pao Weekly on 2 August 2019. Translated into Chinese from the English by Aulina Chan.



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