How Hongkongers thrive in their career amid a year full of uncertainties | We Are HKers
The year 2020 has been overwhelming for most people in the world. A global pandemic emerged and led to the shutdown of cities worldwide, inevitably affecting Hongkongers. The government has also passed the National Security Law, causing a shrinking space for the expression of opinion opposing the government. Despite going through an eventful year, Hongkongers continue to maintain professionalism and pursue success in their career, and are striving to protect and uphold values that define the city.
A pandemic strikes hard
With more and more local infected cases, Hongkongers are being forced to go back to their quarantine lifestyles. However, not everyone has the privilege to work from home, and some even need to position themselves in a stressful, dangerous environment. Alfred Wong works at a public hospital and covers isolation wards to treat patients with confirmed or suspected cases of COVID-19. He faces the threat of being infected and is also unable to stay with his family, or share a meal with them at the same table. “She (my pregnant wife) was worried, I was worried, everyone was worried,” Wong explained, “I’m not ready to end my life like this. I realise now more than ever, that it is not my own life. I owe this to my wife, my daughter to come, my parents, and my future patients.”
While medical workers are at the frontline fighting against the pandemic, Mr. Chan, a local postman, worked 69 hours a week to deliver face masks to citizens in need. As there was a critical shortage of masks among the locals, he volunteered to work extra shifts to provide night-time delivery services. Despite the heavy workload and long working hours, the kindness he received from families and individuals has deeply moved him. Some of his recipients offered some of their masks to him and expressed their gratitude for his hard work. “This long-lost Hong Kong spirit of solidarity and care moved me to tears.” Mr. Chan said as he recalled the heartwarming experience.
Hongkongers have been working harder to fulfill their roles in society during this pandemic, driven by the will to safeguard the health of citizens and save as many lives as possible. Their actions have embodied the spirit of solidarity as a Hongkonger.
Not only does the pandemic bring inconvenience, but also an economic downturn that threatens the survival of small businesses. Kit is the owner of a stall selling travellers’ SIM cards at Apliu street and his business has suffered greatly as the world goes under lockdown. He shifted his focus to the market of local SIM cards for which there is an increasing demand. Still, sales revenue has inevitably reduced. The current situation and the future is not looking good for him, but he is taking things one step at a time and adapting to survive in turbulent times.
Tightened grip on political freedom
The coronavirus outbreak, along with increased efforts on crackdown on protests, has restored uneasy calm on the streets of Hong Kong. Halfway through the year, the controversial National Security Law was proposed and passed in Beijing unanimously, causing an uproar among local and international communities. With shrinking space on freedom of expression and speech, each and every Hongkonger is left with the struggle between continuing to speak up against the government and self-censorship to avoid transgression of the law.
Tsang Chi-Ho, writer and host of RTHK’s satirical comedy show Headliner, finds himself and his programme receiving not only support from pro-democracy Hongkongers, but also attention from authorities who are displeased. The show has been criticized and complained about by government officials and the police, and even the chairman of the RTHK board of directors called for a replacement of the programme hosts. Despite this, Tsang is persistent in his belief that art should reflect reality and there should not be boundaries in discussing politics. “To us, Hongkongers are our only boss,” he said determinedly. Although Tsang is facing an unforeseeable future, he remains hopeful and states that he will not surrender to political pressure until the end.
While countless people are using their creations as a means of expression and communication, educators are also doing their parts to instill the right values in the next generation. Miss M is an English teacher coaching the debate team at a secondary school, insisting that students write up organised rational arguments. She believes in the importance of critical thinking, especially in an era of White Terror, and sees education as a calling and her responsibility to train students to become rational, logical people that have minds of their own. Compared to the past, she and her pro-democracy colleagues are more cautious about expressing their political stance due to surveillance of authorities and fear of being ‘reported’ by students. Despite this, Miss M is determined to guard the city she calls home, “Although we have never experienced the warzone-like protest frontlines, we have our own battles to fight. We stand in solidarity and support the protest in our own ways.”
Hong Kong spirit put on test
Although the year 2020 has been full of uncertainties, Hongkongers continue to demonstrate the ability to uphold their own principles and values, persevere in times of adversity and adapt to changes through their career. The future is still unknown to all, but the Lion Rock spirit, which defines and unites Hongkongers, is sure to persist for a long while.
Full articles of the above interviews can be found on the We Are HKers website.
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Contributors: Miff, Yellow Umbrella, Firefly, Wandy Cheng @ We Are HKers