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週二的構想 | Imagining Tuesdays
約翰百德 (John BATTEN)
at 4:44pm on 27th August 2019


 

圖片說明:

荃灣港鐵行人天橋上的「Free HK」塗鴉,攝於2019年8月20日(圖片由作者提供)

Caption:
‘Free HK'' graffiti, MTR pedestrian overpass, Tsuen Wan, 20 August 2019 (Photo: John Batten)



(Please scroll down for English version)


每逢星期二,香港特別行政區的行政長官林鄭月娥都會發表聲明。雖然是星期二,但林太的樣子卻像禮拜彌撒上無所不能的教會執事。林太站在小講台後面,向我們那些在外面看著電視、電腦屏幕、智能電話,又或在收音機上聆聽者,發表像佈道一樣的簡短講話。但只消一下按鈕,人們便可以把她關掉。很多都人都這樣做。

她每次亮相,都是在每星期由她任主席的行政會議開會前。自從反對修訂逃犯條例的示威活動開始以來,林太的樣子越來越孤立、寂寞、繃緊。她只是我們香港特別行政區的掛名行政長官而已,真正的決定都在其他地方進行––這個經常被提及、無所不包但形狀不定的地方名字叫作「北京」。但北京其實是很多人和很多想法。北京是派別、顧問、強硬派、溫和派、保守派、官員、軍事指揮官、間諜、外交官和狡猾的商人。北京是理論、戰術、拖延、思想、指令、宣傳、意見、流言、詭計、決定、影射和方向。這些只是冰山一角。 

在記者會上,林太看似狼狽慌亂。作為一個極少經歷失敗的成功公務員,她對於自己目前的處境應該感到震驚。這個夏季的兩個月來,數以百萬計的市民走到街上,為反對她的政府遊行。或許,她已查閱和選擇相信警方估計的較低人數數字。她得到下屬保證,在街上遊行的100萬、200萬+ 1和170萬人的數字都是準確的。當然,她的辦公室內一定有聽得見的嘆息。我想像她嘗試瞭解警方和示威者雙方的暴力升級,還有用來控制她眼中已告失控的暴力人群而使用的摧淚彈和橡膠子彈。噴在公路上表達示威者要求,毫不客氣、辱罵式的塗鴉,她很可能是從路政署編制的內部備忘中看到。她當公務員的日子,令她同情警員這群同事。然而,公務員體系中也有其他來自不同部門的成員,包括律政司,均發表了不同聲明,似乎也有不服從政府、不服務她對反修例示威立場的人,情況大概令她感到訝異。儘管她可能已經知道,也有其他人已經告知,林太在這些記者會上的聲明都是簡短而新意欠奉:現有制度會處理對警方的投訴,我們在考慮示威者的訴求前,需要先止暴制亂。 

這些星期二見面會的現場觀眾只有傳媒。林太發表完畢後,會撥出很短的提問時間。傳媒爭相發問,但只有數條問題可以提出。一輪快問快答後,會面便告完結。林太和團隊轉身離開,她的模糊答案繼續在空氣中飄盪。記者們繼續大聲叫囂提問,但隨著她起步離去,這些問題並沒得到回應,我們最後看到的只有她的背影。

過去多個星期以來,香港似乎群龍無首,連政府也失效起來。政府早於數星期前便架空了自己的決策能力,包括所有必須進行的妥協研究工作。北京,又或者說想像出來的北京意見,一直影響著和/或指導著這場政治危機。與此同時,在各大報章的社論中、在大大小小的商業論壇上、在不同學者的意見中、在立法會議員的記者會上,還有店員和顧客的閒談間,都可聽到力勸林太開始與示威者和「反對派」展開對話的聲音。很遺憾,林太的其中一個弱點,是傾向把任何與她看法相異的人士或組織標籤為「反對派」,一個她鮮有諮詢的類別。結果,她對香港的看法只是她自己的鏡像,這對於任何一位政治家來說都是極度危險的。

執筆之時,林鄭月娥表示她已做好「對話」的準備。(當你完全抽離,你可以作出那種隨意的決定,把時間與策略置諸道外。)她應該會組成諮詢小組來負責「設立對話平台」。當我讀到可能出席人士的名單時,雙眼馬上變得呆滯無神:都是那些政府與官僚經常交流、「提供(很多時與自己利益相關)意見」的老名字。

且慢––如果你真的希望展開對話,對象便應該是那些在整場悲慘政治危機中令人敬佩的一群:社工、教師、醫護人員、傳媒工作者 ,還有那寥寥無幾的立法會議員––完全把自己暴露於催淚彈與槍林彈雨之間,站在警方與示威者之間,呼籲包容的一群。他們會給你誠實、有用的意見。透過這些坦誠的討論,我們(沒錯,是我們!)也許能夠在市民對政府的憤怒和不信任中找到出路。

「光復香港」這句為人熟悉的口號並非讓香港獨立於內地的訴求,而是希望重新對「一國兩制」原則作出承擔,讓香港重建「高度自治」的請求。口號也包含著《基本法》所承諾的承擔,讓立法會有更公平的政治代表性,特別是廢除功能組別。這些做法正是可引領我們向前進步的承諾小步伐。

林太,如果你有所懷疑,不妨為自己添置黑色T恤、黑色緊身褲和蒙上面孔(簡單一個藍色醫療面罩已足夠),然後參與其中一場和平集會或示威;沒有人會認出你是誰的,請趁機和身邊的人交談。相信我,你會從中有所體會––此外,活動中的情義也令人感到鼓舞。


原文刊於《明報周刊》,2019年8月30日



Imagining Tuesdays  

by John Batten


On Tuesdays, every week, the Chief Executive of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, Mrs Carrie Lam, makes a statement. Despite it being a Tuesday, Mrs Lam’s appearance has the omnipotent look of a church warden at a Sunday service. Mrs Lam stands behind a lectern, makes a short speech, a homily, for us ‘out there’ watching on a television, a computer monitor, a smartphone or listening on the radio; but it’s just a flick of a switch to turn her off. As many do.

These appearances coincide with the weekly Executive Council meetings that she chairs. Since the anti-extradition protests began, Mrs Lam has increasingly looked isolated, lonely, inflexible, our Chief Executive of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region in name only. The real decisions are made elsewhere, in the oft-cited, all-embracing but amorphous name of “Beijing”, but Beijing is many people and ideas. Beijing is factions, advisors, hardliners, moderates, conservatives, officials, military commanders, police, spies, diplomats, and cagey businessmen. Beijing is theories, tactics, procrastination, thought, commands, propaganda, advice, gossip, intrigue, decisions, innuendo, and directions. And that is just the tip of the iceberg.

Mrs Lam looks flummoxed at her press conferences. Shocked that she is in this position, a successful public servant who, I imagine would tell us, has rarely failed. Millions of people have rallied and marched on the streets over these summer months opposing her government. She would have checked if, perchance, the much-lower police estimates could in preference be believed. She is assured by her staff, that the one million, 2 million (+ 1), and 1.7 million people marching on the streets is accurate. There must have been an audible sigh in her office – surely. I imagine that she tries to comprehend the escalation of violence by police and protesters and the tear gas and rubber bullets to control who she perceives as out-of-control violent hordes. She probably reads the blunt, abusive graffiti sprayed on motorways expressing the protesters’ demands in a fully-compiled-internal-memo from the Highways Department. There is sympathy from her public-servant days towards her colleagues, the police. And, there is astonishment that other members of the public service, from all departments, including the Justice Department, have issued statements seemingly insubordinate to the government and its position on the anti-extradition protests. Despite what she might know and has been told, Mrs Lam’s statements at these press conferences are predictable and curt: the system will deal with complaints against the police and the violence must end before there is any consideration of the protesters’ demands.

The live audience for these Tuesday outings is solely the press. Once Mrs Lam has finished, she allows a Q&A moment. There is jostling to ask questions, knowing only a few will be allowed. These are quickly dealt with and that is that. Mrs Lam and her team turn to leave, the obfuscation of her answers hanging in the air. The press shout, scream, further questions. These are unanswered as she walks away, her back the final glimpse we see.

Over these many weeks, Hong Kong has ostensibly been rudderless, without a working government. The government suspended its decision-making abilities, including the all-necessary exploration of compromise, weeks ago. Beijing, or the imagined opinions of Beijing, has influenced and/or directed this political crisis. Meanwhile - in newspaper editorials, during business forums, advice from academics, heard at legislators’ press conferences and in conversations between shop staff and their customers - Mrs Lam is exhorted to start talking to the protesters and with the “the opposition”. A weakness of Mrs Lam is the unfortunate tendency to label anyone or any organisation that does not agree with her as “the opposition”, a category that she rarely engages with. Consequently, her view of Hong Kong is mirrored in her own reflection – a dangerous position for any politician.

As I write this, Carrie Lam says she is now ready for “dialogue”. (When you are detached, you can make that sort of arbitrary call, oblivious to timing or strategy). She is supposedly putting an advisory group together to “set up a platform for dialogue”. My eyes glazed over when I read the possible attendees: the same old types who always speak to the government and the bureaucracy, to “give (too often, self-interested) advice”.

Nah – if you really want to get a dialogue started, talk to those that have been honourable during this entire miserable political crisis: the social workers, the teachers, the medical workers, members of the press, and those few legislators - fully exposed to tear gas and projectiles - that stood between the police and protesters pleading tolerance. They will give you honest, helpful advice. From such frank discussions, we (and it is we!) might find a road to navigate the anger and distrust that the public has towards the government.

The now familiar protesters’ slogan of “Free Hong Kong” is not a demand for independence from the mainland. It is a demand for a re-commitment to the principles of “one country, two systems” whereby Hong Kong reestablishes its “high degree of autonomy”. It also embodies, as promised in the Basic Law, a commitment to fairer political representation in the Legislative Council, particularly the abolition of functional constituencies. These are the sort of specific stepping-stone commitments to reform that will lead forward.

Mrs Lam, if you are skeptical: buy yourself a black T-shirt, black lycra leggings and cover

your face (a blue medical facemask is sufficient). Then, join one of the peaceful rallies or protests, no-one will recognize you, and chat with those you meet. Trust me, you’ll learn something – and, besides, the camaraderie is uplifting.


This opinion piece was originally published in Ming Pao Weekly on 30 August 2019. Translated into Chinese from the English by Aulina Chan.



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