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Sound of truths budding|Chan Kin-man

They bury truths with lies, but the seeds of truths make every effort to seek sunlight in the soil of autocracy. The ground-breaking crack of their budding is ear-splitting.

Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor gave the “perfection” of Hong Kong’s electoral arrangement a warm welcome, believing that with the number of directly elected seats in the Legislative Council (LegCo) reduced, the citizens can express their opinions via Fire Safety and Fight Crime Committees. The street booths set up by the pro-establishment camp to show support for the notion of “patriots governing Hong Kong” are deserted and cheerless, but the organizers said that they have garnered 2.38 million signatures, which amounts to the fact that the majority of Hong Kong people support the “perfection” of Hong Kong’s electoral arrangement.

Alumni of CUHK cherish free votes

I have found that the citizens that are comparatively clear-headed are not keen on discussing the details of the revised arrangement, as anyhow the LegCo has become a recycle bin for loyal rubbish, or an arena where they contend with each other for the champion of loyalty or brain damage. The citizens whisper to each other whether they are going to cast a blank vote or abstain from voting. Some said they will not be able to vent their resentment unless they pen swear words on the votes, while some said they are worried about being capitalized on to make a scene of long queues and push up the turnout. Now that the government has decided to penalize anyone who incites electors to cast a blank vote, the seeds of such noises can only squirm beneath the soil. Let’s see what kind of fruit they will end up.

Since free votes have become extinct, alumni of the Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) exceptionally cherished the vote cast in the election for The Convocation of The Chinese University of Hong Kong. The new chairman (also natural board director of CUHK) and two standing committee members will be elected in the election. As thousands of alumni took part, the meeting was held at Hong Kong Coliseum. During the Q&A session of the annual general meeting, some alumni drawn from the turnout queried if the university had stood guard over the freedom of speech, if the crackdown on students was justifiable, and if the Convocation had duly watchdogged the school on alumni’s behalf. Though some candidates talked like Eunice Yung Hoi-yan, still living in their own heads after answering questions, the meeting was smooth and orderly in general. However, participants showed their dislike with a chorus of boos in the meeting held in the afternoon.

The voting procedure was activated at the very beginning of the meeting. Some alumni queried the practice of affixing a seal on a vote in the full glare of publicity; some demanded further clarification of the cut-off time for casting a vote, lest the late comers might miss their votes. But the chairman answered frivolously, saying that he was the chairman that day, so he had the final say. Discontent with the chairman’s performance, some alumni required a motion of no confidence against the chairman added to the agenda. Even so, uninformed about the priority of the rules of order, the chairman could only manage to play the buffoon or threaten to expel those squabbling with him from the venue. I was, however, caught by surprise with the fact that there are way more than one Junius Ho Kwan-yiu in Hong Kong, some of whom have even become a board director of one of the highest-educational institutions. Nevertheless, the election results were pleasantly flabbergasting: the liberalist candidate scored a landslide victory, and the majority of the participants voted for the motion of no confidence against the chairman. It ended up with thunderous applause, which was an ear-splitting crack of public opinion budding in the soil. On a different note, there is a kind of voting that goes on in silence, and even the voters are not aware that they are declaring their stands. George Orwell’s 1984 ranked among the top ten most borrowed on the 2020 public library chart. Frightened out of my wits by the totalitarian world illustrated in the book, I dare not recommend it to the people struggling in a downward spiral of depression.

1984 warns us against totalitarianism

George Orwell was left-leaning in his early years, penning songs of lament about the underprivileged in society and ruthless governance in colonies. His original intention of going against capitalism and imperialism threw him into the Spanish Civil War to fight alongside communists against the right-wing fascism led by Francisco Franco. Who would have thought that the corps he took part in was deemed by the communist party a Trotskyist organization, hence purged, from which he had a narrow escape? He then learned from his experiences that it was possible for both left wing and right wing to be prone to totalitarianism. From then on, he aspired to criticize dictatorships and write in favor of freedoms for the rest of his life.

1984 is about a state governed by Big Brother where the language is reconstructed to deprive the people of diction for their dissenting voices; snitching and electronic surveillance force the people to toe the line; the history is rewritten to make the ruler omniscient and omnipotent; cruel torture makes protesters embrace contorted reality. Life under a totalitarian dictatorship is “not about the dimension of the cruelty and volatile fear, but life itself turned into a pronoun of savageness, gloom and desolateness”.

Why do people have a fervent desire to read the book that sends shiver down their spine? On the paper strip seal on the front cover of the edition by Shanghai Translation Publishing House, the text reads: “More readers of George Orwell, more protection of freedom.” In the preface written by Joseph Lau Shiu-ming for the edition by the CUHK Press, the article reads: “More readers of this book among the nationals, more alertness to the totalitarianism.” That is also a ground-breaking crack of truths budding.

(Chan Kin-man is one of the founders of Occupy Central with Love and Peace Campaign)

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