Readers of this blog might wonder why I haven't commented on what happened at the University of Hong Kong on 18 August. I haven't because, as you can see from the previous posts, I was privileged enough to be distracted to something much more pleasant and rewarding over the past two weeks. This is especially soothing in one way or another when you feel so hopelessly frustrated by the repeated blunders of the administrators of this great city.
Another reason that I haven't uttered a word is that so many questions remain unanswered. Despite the inquiry at the Legislative Council and all the war of words and changes of positions, little has been clarified and confirmed. The full picture remains pretty much as blurred and remote as it was two weeks ago. There don't seem to have enough facts to draw an informed conclusion. Venting your emotions is by all means good for your psychological health, but not necessarily so for identifying the root causes and prescribing the right medicine to deal with them.
I don't need to repeat myself how ridiculous and unacceptable the police actions were. Neither do I need to repeat myself that the recent public uproar once again demonstrates the irrevocable, deep-rooted mistrust and discontent of communist China among many people of Hong Kong. But what seems most intriguing to me is the question of WHY. Why do the decision-makers, whoever they are (although I can't wait to be told), keep making stupid decisions, big and small, from giving a remote corner seat to Lord David Wilson, one of the officiating guests at the University of Hong Kong to allowing the police to cordon off the campus for the so-called security concerns. Why did the government (both the Security Bureau and the police in this case) insist to upgrade the security precautions to unprecedented levels, even more stringent than those for previous visits by the Chinese president, the premier and the US Secretary for State? Why did senior government office-bearers and social leaders such as Henry Tang and Rita Fan choose to support a hard-line approach to fend off opposition, which has always been a commonplace in Hong Kong? What does it tell you about them and other creatures alike that are said to be contenders for the helm of Hong Kong in the next few years?
As a history student, I know too well how collaborative the government and the local business leaders, be they Chinese or British, has always been during British colonisation. But that does not necessarily mean that the business leaders are ready to do anything to please the government. Leading British merchants had direct access to the Colonial Office in London and thus were powerful enough to give the local administration a cold shoulder. Prominent Chinese tycoons had extensive networks in the Chinese government and generally maintained good terms with the local administration, which could be leveraged and manipulated to their own benefit when the tides changed. But rarely did they lose sight of what is right and wrong. When it comes to the big question, confrontation and even clashes with those in power were not uncommon. Why do the rich and powerful guys nowadays seem to have lost the courage to uphold our values and beliefs? Why do so many of them behave like eunuchs who devote their time to gain the master's favour and care for nothing else?