Rebut ST letter by Ms Lam Yung Yung

I refer to the 6 Nov 2014 Straits Times letter “HK protests highlight generation gap” by Ms Lam Yung Yung.

It is convenient but ultimately wrong for Ms Lam Yung Yung to say that Hong Kong pro-democracy leader Joshua Wong is doing it for self-glorification. Joshua is just one of thousands of activists who participated in a multitude of protests. Why doesn’t Ms Lam say that thousands of other faceless and nameless activists are also doing it for fame? Just because Joshua became the face of Hong Kong’s democracy movement while other activists remain faceless and nameless doesn’t mean that Joshua is therefore different from the rest in seeking self-glorification.

Without conducting a referendum, Ms Lam has no basis to say for sure that the majority of Hong Kong people do not need or do not appreciate what Joshua is doing. The scale and magnitude of the protest show that support for Joshua’s movement is significant.

Ms Lam should not dismiss what Joshua and his fellow activists have accomplished so casually. Joshua ignited a discussion that has far reaching implications for all future generations of Hong Kong people. It concerns who controls Hong Kong’s destiny – Beijing or Hong Kong. The short term disruption to livelihood is just a small price to pay for the eternal fruit of self-determination.

Ms Lam is at least wiser than many Singaporeans in recognizing that Hong Kong’s flourishing is the result of the people’s hard work whereas many Singaporeans, no matter how hard they work, will always believe they owe the government their prosperity.

While it may seem to Ms Lam that previous generations had little whereas the present generations have more, the truth isn’t so straight forward. Previous generations could afford more with whatever little they had because property prices compared to salaries weren’t as high as they are today.

Ms Lam should understand that the issue of job prospects isn’t a simple matter of studying harder. Studying harder doesn’t guarantee better jobs; better jobs may not be enough to pay for runaway property prices.

Contrary to what Ms Lam said, Joshua hasn’t smeared Hong Kong’s image but raised its profile instead. Even ex-Singapore deputy Prime Minister Mr George Yeo expressed admiration when he said

“The civic consciousness was of such a high quality, I told myself that it must be second only to the Japanese. I also asked myself whether in Singapore, our level of civi consciousness would be as high. My point is … if at the atomic level, you have good people who are responsible, who care for one another, upon these bricks you can build the most wonderful structures … So I look at Hong Kong, yes, there are problems, the future is uncertain and many things are not withing their control. But they have good people, strong people, and they will survive.”

[Straits Times, 18 Oct 2014]

Why does Ms Lam restrict comparison to Asian countries only? Do Asians not deserve the relatively lower property prices enjoyed in a great many Western cities? Even amongst developed Asian countries, not all face the same dilemma of high rents and high real estate prices. Taiwan property prices are comparatively more affordable than Singapore’s or Hong Kong’s. Despite high property prices, people in Singapore don’t occupy the roads to protest because the moment they do that, they will end up occupying the jail instead.

Just because Hong Kong enjoys greater freedom than say rock bottom Singapore is no reason to say that’s all that Hong Kong deserves.

Joshua’s work isn’t completed and will take many more years to come to fruition. Since Ms Lam knows that typical universal suffrage takes a journey to accomplish, she should therefore have more patience to wait a little longer for Joshua to complete his journey instead of denouncing it so quickly. It is Ms Lam, not Joshua who wants everything to happen instantly. Ms Lam wants the protests to end quickly whereas Joshua is in for the long haul.

The lost generation might well turn out to be Ms Lam’s who has never experienced and will never appreciate what self-determination means.

Straits Times, HK protests highlight generation gap, 6 Nov 2014

READING Hong Kong pro-democracy leader Joshua Wong Chi-Fung’s commentary (“Young protesters in HK want say in how they are governed”; last Friday), I cannot help thinking that so much of it is self-glorification, when the majority of Hong Kong people do not need him as a “hero” to fight for our freedom.

His ideology has achieved nothing, but has created disruption in Hong Kong society and has affected the livelihood of many.

From a barren rock, Hong Kong has flourished and become the very vibrant city that it is. Its success is largely due to the enduring hard work of the people who came before us.

Previous generations appreciated what little they had and made things better.

These post-90s younger people do not appreciate what they already have and only know how to be “angry and disappointed”, and complain that the government is “trying to steal our future”.

If Mr Wong’s concern is that “job prospects are depressing”, then why does he not encourage his fellow students to go back to class to study harder in order to better equip themselves?

Does he think smearing Hong Kong’s image will give him better economic opportunities?

If his discontentment is that “rents and real estate are beyond most young people’s means”, then he should speak to his peers in developed Asian countries.

Are they not facing the same dilemma? And yet, do they go around occupying their main roads?

The fact that these student protesters have been occupying different areas for over a month already shows the great freedom that we in Hong Kong are enjoying.

What else does he want?

If it is universal suffrage, then if he reads enough history, he will know that it takes a “journey” to achieve any kind of reform.

It only goes to show that Mr Wong and his post-90s generation would like everything to happen instantly.

With this kind of mentality, I am afraid we have lost a generation of youth, just as Mr Wong aptly described.

Yung Yung Lam (Ms)

Hong Kong


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