Monday, January 20, 2020

The Lessons of Hong Kong

Writing a book about port cities and being busy with two cities my wife and I have visited recently, Singapore and Hong Kong, I think about the international, global perspective that is much needed in matters such as political struggle (locally, nationally and internationally), human rights, labour conditions, wages, social security, food, education, income distribution, pensions, production, consumption, trade, transport, clean air/ground/water, the role of armies, economic growth, and, finally, although my list is longer: democracy.

I'd like to say a few words about democracy, inspired by an article I just read in the South China Morning Post of 19 Dec 2019, "Don't cry for Hong Kong. Say sorry and fix our problems", written by Bernard Yeung. Reflecting on the conflict between HK Government and HK citizens, Yeung advocates reconciliation and cooperation. He argues that a government has to balance the interests of all classes, including those of the future generation. "If that balance is lost," he says, "the state can be captured by tycoons or populists. The former leads to disparity and helplessness of the underprivileged. The latter leads to the mutual dependence of opportunistic politicians and special interest groups seeking instant policy impacts leading to costly, inconsistent policies."

Bernard Yeung also advocates "responsible and respectful communication" between the HK Government and its protesting citizens, a plea I support - in part because I have seen in Chile, where I lived during the last year of the Allende Government in 1973, how the lack of responsible and respectful communication, contributed to creating a climate that led to civic-military dictatorship and brutal repression during 17 years.

When I read the article by Yeung, I thought one could apply his plea for balancing interests and respectful communication also to western democracies in the Americas, Europe and elsewhere. The United States, Brasil, the United Kingdom (Britain) are sad examples. France, the Netherlands and Italy (and other European countries) have prominent populists too.

I just finished a short film I made about Hong Kong, which includes a civil protest action and images of the famous Star Ferry. You can see it by clicking on the link below.

Videothumbnail: Hong Kong Port
Hong Kong Port