A couple of years ago I have already lamented about the city where I was born and bred. I feel more detached from it than ever, or it has simply changed so fast and thoroughly that I find it harder and harder to catch up with, let alone making some sense of it. I try to stay away from the populism and keep a cool head among the peers, despite the risk of being misunderstood or misperceived. But things only get worse over time. And there is little sign of awareness or recognition that we are being dragged into a dangerous direction.
What happened this morning proves that the situation has deteriorated more rapidly than I can possibly imagine. That Mr Kevin Lau Chun-to, former editor-in-chief of Ming Pao Daily News was stabbed with six serious wounds on a busy street in Sai Wan Ho was shocking, outrageous and horrendous. No one in this city who truly believes in justice, morality and the rule of law would find it acceptable. It has nothing to do with freedom of the press or speech. It is a shameless challenge to the rule of law and human conscience. It is hardly surprising that the shocking news has hit the headlines globally.
Again I refrain from speculating the causes of such a gruesome act. What is the point of doing so when a man is struggling to survive? First things should come first. Let's pray for Mr Lau's speedy recovery. Let’s pray for justice to be done with the earliest possible solution of the violent crime. Let's express our strongest condemnation of violence and violation of human rights. Whatever the causes may be, it is by no means justifiable to teach someone you hate a lesson with such bloodshed and violence. When vicious verbal attacks and bullying are way too much for reasonable tolerance, how can we tolerate violence for any fellow human being?
Indeed, freedom of speech in Hong Kong is under unprecedented threat. But it does not necessarily come from some perceived gigantic authorities hidden somewhere, but more so among the ordinary people hanging around. The online community and the news media that closely monitor the latest fads online have virtually become another centre of power for arbitrary justice. Aren’t we familiar with cases in which someone becomes a victim of verbal abuse, online bullying with their identity put under public scrutiny simply because he/she has spoken something stupid or outrageous? His/her remarks may be unpleasant, irresponsible or nonsense, but who are we to give a verdict and punishment for what someone says? When so many of us are defending our right to speak up and freedom from fear, why are we denying the right and freedom of those with whom we disagree? Why should I bother to speak my mind anymore when I know too well my disagreement with the prevalent views will not be tolerated, let alone respected, but invites ruthless attacks from the anonymous who claim upholding justice? Whose justice is that?
What we urgently need, therefore, is not only a solution to work out how we should get along with our new master, but, more importantly, a prescription to cure our contaminated heart and mind.