Generation 40s – 四十世代

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Protest strategy should go beyond ‘sticking it out’

South China Morning Post
Comment›Insight & Opinion
OCCUPY CENTRAL
2014-12-04

Manisha Mirchandani

Manisha Mirchandani says a tactical retreat may revive flagging campaign

The violent escalation of the Occupy protests in Admiralty and Mong Kok in the past week has been tinged with a sense of exhausted protesters raging against the dying of the light. A risky plan to blockade the central government offices and paralyse activity was deemed “largely a failure”, and key student figures such as Joshua Wong Chi-fung are now resorting to a Gandhian-style hunger strike in a bid to draw the government back to the negotiating table.

Squabbling among various factions on strategy, compounded by a lack of gumption by pan-democratic legislators, is giving oxygen to radicals. An ugly, violent end to the protests is looking likely.

When asked why they were still there holding up their umbrellas, despite the bleak forecast, one student summed it up thus: for this generation, there is no other recourse for their voice to be heard.

Hong Kong’s young people feel boxed in, and are resorting to desperate measures to be heard. Much of the blame lies at the feet of the leadership, who have neglected to use this to enhance opportunities for the public to participate in decision-making. Valid suggestions for improving representativeness in the nomination committee have fallen on deaf ears.

This is in contrast to trends across the Asia-Pacific, where winds of change are blowing in fledgling democracies such as Myanmar and adolescent ones such as Indonesia. None are faultless, but all acknowledge the importance of giving people a “voice” and of the power of a mandate for elected leaders to make decisions. Like a pressure valve, these mechanisms allow for steam to be released in societies that are complex, messy and often unfair.

The events of the past nine weeks suggest ours has been poorly designed and manufactured. To be fair, Hong Kong protesters have hardly demonstrated a willingness to consider moderate solutions within the parameters of the Basic Law. There is a missed opportunity for our leaders to be brave and forward-thinking within these parameters. And in this spirit, Wong and his supporters must also seize the opportunity to be modern, young and dynamic. They will lose if they continue to protest in a traditional fashion, against conservative forces who always win a numbers game.

Even Wong’s courageous hunger strike reinforces a paternalistic narrative that has underpinned the protests, and one that the administration has played astutely.

Along with democratisation in the region, new modes of discourse and communication have risen. Social networks have changed the way information is shared. Protesters here have been innovative in their use of the internet and social media to mobilise support, but less so in their protest tactics which remain outdated, and premised on “sticking it out”.

Wong said to his fellow protesters in early November that leaving now would amount to nothing. He was wrong.

At no point has there been serious consideration of a “flash mob” strategy: the threat of being able to mobilise protesters in significant numbers if good faith is broken. As well as minimising disruption to the public, the unpredictability of this tactic has its benefits against a bureaucracy.

Retreating with the strength of agility and the threat of rapid remobilisation is a formidable weapon that the umbrella movement wields, and one which can be used to influence the pace and momentum of the pro-democracy movement. After all, as Wong himself posited, time is on the side of the young protesters.

Born and raised in Hong Kong, Manisha Mirchandani is an independent writer and researcher on development issues in Asia


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抗爭恐怕再無「紅線」

明報
筆陣
2014-12-18

文﹕蔡子強

「This is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.」

(這不是一個終結,這甚至不是一個終結的開始,卻可能只是一個開始的終結。)

——邱吉爾在二次大戰英國處於艱困時說

當盒子已經打開

隨着佔領運動於旺角、金鐘、銅鑼灣相繼被清場,運動看似告一段落,特區政府或許會覺得可以鬆一口氣。但其實,正如前述,這並不是一個終結的開始,相反,只是一個開始的終結。一個「抗爭年代」的盒子已經打開,沒有人能夠把抗爭的精靈重新收回盒子之內。

這次雨傘運動最深遠的影響之一,就是它讓抗爭走出以往的界限,挑戰了既有的禁忌。

當「佔領中環」最初被提出時,它帶出了一個相關理念叫「公民抗命」,由最初的堵路,到近日曾經討論過的罷交稅款和公屋租金,這些抗爭方式不單走出了以往的框框,更挑戰了法律的界限,讓政府受到更大的衝擊,亦因而惹來社會的巨大爭議以至撕裂。

當界限已經再不是界限,禁忌再不是禁忌

而讓問題變本加厲的是,雖然佔中三子以及一些學者,很努力地嘗試把公民抗命有關的學理說清楚,並企圖把這套實踐限制於一個負責任和邏輯嚴謹的範圍之內,但現實政治的發展,卻不會完全服膺於書生之見。固然,有很多人貫徹始終負責任的進行公民抗命,並堅持到最後自首和清場時接受被捕,以體現尊重法治、承擔法律後果的精神,但同時,也有部分人,對公民抗命的理解卻不一定這麼嚴謹,甚至簡化為:為了公義,就可以犯法,甚至不需要為此負上責任。

其實雨傘運動發展過來,抗爭方式很多時與佔中三子原先構想的相去甚遠,不單「和平非暴力」這一條守得十分艱難,最後出現了零星的衝擊和流血事件,到後來更發展出「鳩嗚」之類的行為,更遠非他們所願見。最後才出現朱耀明牧師在記者會中老淚縱橫的場面,認為運動已經偏離他們一向主張的愛與和平。

但更讓人擔憂的是,正如戴耀廷上周六出席電台節目總結佔領運動經驗時說,雖然他表明自己一定不會號召暴力抗爭,但卻擔心很多人覺得「和平非暴力」這原則已經「out」,未必有耐性繼續透過和平的方式去爭取。

當循規蹈矩的抗爭方式已經變得不痛不癢

當事情發展到這個地步,當然大家極不願見,但特區政府和北京都要明白,他們要為此負上很大責任。當傳統循規蹈矩的抗爭方式,對政府變得不痛不癢時,試問抗爭者還會如何選擇?

讓我們回顧歷史。1990年代,當大家對議會政治還有憧憬,議會還能夠有所作為時,大家嘗試透過議會解決問題,社運遂進入了一個休眠期;到了九七回歸後,議會因為分組點票、比例代表制、《基本法》第74條3道「緊箍咒」,而被廢了武功,人們開始走出議會,把政治訴求訴諸上街,結果發展到2003年50萬人上街,讓董建華下台;但到了梁振英上台後,無論有幾多次四五十萬人上街,他都視若無睹、無動於中、「闊佬懶理」時,人們亦唯有把抗爭升級至公民抗命、堵路的層次。

事實上,近年「議會政治無用論」充斥,這是社運激進化的一大背景。例如,當2014年6月,時任財委會主席的建制派議員吳亮星,可在泛民議員離席包圍主席台就會議程序理論時,「夾硬」在迅雷不及掩耳的情况下,在1分鐘內匆匆完成投票表決;又例如,每次面對社會上具爭議性議題,建制派都恃着選舉制度為他們製造了議會上的多數,而未經理順問題,便「夾硬」通過,這樣,議會政治無用論,以及鼓吹激烈街頭抗爭論,只會愈來愈有市場。

試問,如果公民抗命、堵路等和平非暴力抗爭,最後也被證明是對當權者不痛不癢時,你覺得抗爭者會乾脆認命,鳴金收兵,還是進一步再把行動升級呢?又如果再升級,那又會是一種怎樣的抗爭呢?

事實上,11月下旬,當佔領運動進入僵局時,據知情者透露,有激進的抗爭者便提出過要摒棄「和平非暴力」這個原則,更至少在3個不同場合發表過有關宣言,要放棄和平非暴力,把行動升級,讓雙學承受巨大壓力,更與三子及泛民政黨發生過激烈爭論。結果,學生妥協的結果,是發動了11月30日晚包圍政府總部的行動,但也造成了流血收場。

當政治領導已經被削弱以至摧殘

我擔心,當特區政府和北京繼續冷待抗爭者的政治訴求,在抗爭者之間,要把行動升級,超越和平非暴力這界線的聲音,只會愈來愈大,尤其是三子這類溫和派淡出運動之後,運動中更會少了制衡力量,抗爭可以變得愈來愈無規範和「紅線」。

過去一段長時間,北京透過各種方法打壓本港泛民政黨以至其他民主派人士,包括透過其控制和能夠影響到的絕大多數香港媒體,對他們一直口誅筆伐,結果,是把他們弄得遍體鱗傷,餘下來還有聲望的人士所餘無幾,再難團結各方,領導運動。再加上,今次雨傘運動本身便是一場民間自發的運動,在運動中不斷出現「沒有大會,只有群眾」、「拆大台」之類的聲音,讓運動的領導愈來愈遭削弱。這樣的結果,是當抗爭中出現了過激、越軌的行為,也沒有人可以勸阻。

我相信無論民主黨、公民黨、工黨這些泛民主流政黨,又或者佔中三子和雙學,都不會贊成民眾以「鳩嗚」這種對無辜商戶會造成滋擾的方式來抗爭,但當運動的領導被削弱了之後,還有何人可以說服民眾不要這樣做,更遑論指揮。

再者,過去20年是整個政治制度,到了梁振英上台,尤其是雨傘運動之後,甚至是警隊這樣的執法機構,公信力和公正性都開始備受質疑,當抗爭者再不相信現存的制度之後,更加會助長他們出軌抗爭的決心。

因此,當打破了一切框框和禁忌之後,未來抗爭可以變得愈來愈無規範和「紅線」,亦因為民主運動的領導被削弱和摧殘,抗爭也變得再沒有人可以駕馭,結果就是,政府將面對愈來愈激烈的抗爭,香港將變得愈來愈不可管治。

但正如上一篇所論及,中央會在乎嗎?

(後佔中系列之二)

蔡子強

中文大學政治與行政學系高級講師


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Occupy protests may be ending, but the grievances won’t go away

South China Morning Post
Comment
2014-12-10

Philip Yeung

Philip Yeung says many of the problems can be traced back to Donald Tsang’s disastrous policies

By now, popular support for the Occupy Movement has melted away. After two noisy months, its chokepoints have exacted a painful price on the retail and transport sectors. The tide is turning.

When it began, some cab drivers would ferry passengers to the occupied areas for free – until the occupation began to eat into their livelihood.

Tactically, the government’s approach of waiting it out has worked. Student organisers, seeing the writing on the wall, have resorted to increasingly desperate moves to keep the movement alive. Scholarism’s Joshua Wong Chi-fung, who tasted victory in the campaign against national education, is eager for an encore. But the government won’t budge, and Wong can’t win.

But the government cannot afford to gloat. The ugly factors that have fuelled the movement are still festering.

It is good to see that the Commission on Poverty has swung into action to address social grievances. Livelihood-obsessed Hongkongers are notoriously apolitical. They may not hanker for messy democracy per se, but they do yearn for good government and a fair society.

People returning from living overseas lament the loss of the old Hong Kong, celebrated globally as the most freewheeling place on earth for entrepreneurship. A decade of pampering the super-rich has tilted the scales against the rest of society.

Former chief executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen, known for hobnobbing with tycoons, is as notorious for his expensive wine collection, sold upon leaving office, as he is for a series of disastrous moves that fundamentally altered our universe. He suspended land auctions, discontinued the building of public housing and curtailed the construction of the Home Ownership Scheme, artificially driving up property prices well beyond the reach of the middle class.

While decrying Hong Kong’s narrow tax base, Tsang’s government nevertheless saw fit to drop the import duty on wine, rescinded the inheritance tax, cut profit tax rates, and gifted custody of the Mandatory Provident Fund to banks and financial institutions. With rent spiralling out of control, every budding entrepreneur is now working for their landlord.

Years ago, the government used to sing the tune that young people should go into business for themselves. But these days, who can afford to? Most commercial leases run for three years – the first year is a money-loser; the second, a break-even year. By the third year, at the first sign of profitability, the landlord slaps an obscene rent hike that drives people out of business. The entrepreneur’s dream is no more.

In the sad satellite towns of Tuen Mun and Tin Shui Wai, government town planners failed to include wet markets which would have provided hundreds of jobs for local residents trapped in poverty, forcing them to pay through the nose at one of two tycoon-owned supermarkets.

School social workers will tell you that many students from poor but proud families have never been to Central, much less occupied it, as they can’t even afford the bus fare into the city. These are the lost souls in this filthy-rich city, where wealth disparities are among the most severe in the world.

While mainlanders are busy chasing the China Dream, the Hong Kong Dream is dead, killed by self-serving and short-sighted decision-makers. Job creation schemes for young people won’t be much of a cure or correction. Having a job that barely keeps the wolf from the door can hardly qualify as upward social mobility. Who can see a future living in an exploited city touted as having the freest economy in the world, but that is, in fact, a pseudo-free market – free for business tycoons, but not for the rest of us?

No anti-poverty measures can work without factoring in rental affordability, both residential and commercial. Perhaps the government should go on a hawker licence issuing spree to give the young and poor a new lease of life, to break the near-monopoly of big businesses. At least they can operate rent-free. This city must find its old magic when even street hawkers and itinerant vendors could climb out of poverty. We need deliverance from rental slavery.

Education was once a path out of poverty. But the poor have been priced out of quality schools. A dysfunctional school curriculum unanchored by a study of history is now reaping the bitter fruit of a generation of youngsters ignorant of their own country, and indifferent to the world. Despite their activism, the youthful protesters are trapped in their own narrow corner, unconcerned about the past and unprepared for the future. They are misfits within a rising China and a shrinking world.

Hong Kong is crying out for a compassionate and competent leader. Whatever happens to constitutional reform, even if we can’t get a Lee Kuan Yew, we don’t deserve another Donald Tsang.

Philip Yeung is a former speechwriter to the president of HKUST and co-founder of the Hong Kong Society for the Promotion of English.


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我們誰不是移民?

Hong Kong Economic Journal
B03 | 專家視角 | 一瓢集 |
By 張宗永 |
2013-10-19

5 年前告別了最後一張糧單,離開銀行, 「從良」之後,投資了一些時間和金錢研究怎樣利用金融知識替社會創造更大的利益,而不單是在銅鈿堆中打滾,其中包括投資社企。坦白說,到了今天,我仍然掌握不到在經濟效率和幫助弱勢社群中的平衡點。

我最想做的是促進新移民和香港社會關係的社企,讓大家明白︰人的出身,包括口音,不應該是原罪。一位25 歲祖籍雲南的香港大學畢業生劉涵,月初在太古城橫過班馬線時被貨車撞倒,傷重不治,網上憤青竟發表仇恨言論,高叫「支那人」滾回中國,但香港普羅大眾仍然非常理智,這些噴血言論很快便被其他網民批判。

我是在香港長大的,但也在海外生活了接近四分一個世紀(在加拿大生活了15年,在新加坡居停了7年),那段日子裏我也不是一帆風順的,我很清楚我並不屬於主流社會,但仍然非常享受那種「邊緣人」的生活。

加拿大曾感受「小黃禍」

上世紀80 年代末期,加拿大政府重新開放香港移民申請,地廣人稀的加拿大開始感受到「小黃禍」,唐人街一下子充斥着香港電視劇主題曲靡靡之音。今天,香港人抱怨大陸同胞吵鬧和暴發戶,當天加拿大的WSAP何嘗不是用同樣的形容詞來批評香港移民?同樣,當新移民扯高樓價後,很多加拿大人一方面抱怨,一方面又急不及待賣掉舊房子套現,搬往鄉間「享清福」。

我在投行工作時,公司是頗「藍血」的,我是交易室少數的黃皮膚,雖在當地畢業,學校和成績都尚算過得去,加上工作性質以技術為主,日常不用和客戶接觸太多,但很多事情上仍然感受到和主流社會的隔膜。記得有次棒球錦標決賽,公司設了包廂招待貴賓觀賞賽事,我也被邀作伴,整整4個小時要和客人small talk,跟老外談棒球,而棒球是我一點也不感興趣的體育運動,箇中辛苦可想而知。

移民的甜酸苦辣,令我更能設身處地從他們的角度去感受這世界。其實,我們誰不是移民?我這輩的香港人,上一代大部分是移民,我們感受到他們顛沛流離,追求安身立命之所而經歷的痛苦。我明白今天年輕一代可能覺得社會競爭愈來愈激烈,向上游的空間愈來愈少,禁不住抱怨外來的競爭對手,這方面我認為香港政府應該收納更多能夠幫助香港經濟發展、例如幫助就業的移民。

今天香港的新移民也有很多不同的背景,我身邊愈來愈多朋友、尤其是比我年輕的都不是在香港出生的,他們年紀很小便隨父母移民香港,他們不提,我根本無從分辨;這些才俊今天都是事業有成,享受着社會地位帶來的好處。

另一方面,我因為參加社企活動,曾探訪一些新移民,其中包括不少單親家庭,他們在整個社會食物鏈的最底層掙扎,本着的是一顆向上提升自己的決心。

1974 年,香港和大陸邊境爆發偷渡潮,港英政府宣布實施「抵壘政策」,偷渡者如果能夠避開軍警,成功到達界限街以南的市區,就能獲得香港居民身份。今天,我們看待新移民,也應該實行抵壘政策,能夠理直氣壯在香港生活的,我們都應該視他們為香港人!

張宗永