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The protest in Hong Kong is in its third week and clashes between the people themselves are beginning to unfold. Anti-Occupy groups are beginning to self-organise themselves against Occupy protesters, hiring trucks and lorries to dismember makeshift barricades that have been blocking traffic off some of Hong Kong’s major thoroughfares on the Island. The development of events and interaction between government and protesters are totally unpredictable. Negotiation talks that were announced to take place on 10 October were called off suddenly; everyday is rumoured to be a deadline for police clearance of the Occupy sites. And every night protesters stay on the streets till the sun dawns the next day.
The experience of the protests is immediate. The barricades so far have come in no standardised form, and because of them there is so much more space in the city. On 26 September, before we erected the barricades, I saw the crowd overflowing from Admiralty Centre into Harcourt Road. I am in the crowd flooding out from Fenwick Pier Street as the traffic seemed to voluntarily halt. I looked to my left as I walked westward on the eastbound lane of Gloucester Road alongside people whom I had never met and faces I cannot recall. I looked to the right into the Government Headquarters plaza and saw more faces I cannot recall. A ribbon of blue uniforms kept the three crowds apart. Roads that I rarely took, I now roam. I felt the heat swelling up in the asphalt as I sat on the road in midday; I felt the road contracting and cooling as I stretched my legs during sundown.
The experience of the protests is mediated. Social media has been the most powerful tool of communication and diverse news source at the moment. Rumours too fly through the ether, including manipulated images of the People’s Liberation Army advancing into town. And the head of the city speaks only through pre-recorded videos and interviews. At 23:34, on 28 September, the protesters flew out a drone from the bridge in Admiralty. I am on the ground and I look up into a negative landscape of the sky, at cutouts of the night amidst the buildings that surrounded me. And I am also in the skies as I look down upon a sea of black dots, my fellow people occupying the streets, alleyways, and roads that we never thought of standing in shoulder to shoulder. As I look into the screen, onto a back-lit surface on which we swipe our fingers to sift through not only images and text, but also information, knowledge, and emotions. An announcement scrolled across the television screen on that same night read “Fireworks for National Day celebration cancelled.”
On 3 October, some brought chalk with them and wrote on the ground “I am here today because”. What ensued was a whole section of the lane filling up with lines after lines of writing in chalk, of people telling the world why they were there that day and every day. Some of us found an open spot on the bridge amongst the crowd and perched there for fresh air. You asked me if I see myself as an activist. I replied I am not sure if I would call myself one. But I think, I know, and I believe, that the life and practice I have chosen to live and breathe, is a choice to hope that we can live differently and more justly. I do not know if we can live differently and more justly, but I think I would choose to hope so. And if hope is fleeting, like our friends from Tahrir Square cautioned, I am determined to live differently and more justly and demand the impossible. Just 3 nights before, we opened and closed our umbrellas rhythmically and cheered. It had just past midnight, it was 1 October, and though there were no fireworks, with umbrellas we counted down to the National Day.
A few days later I went back to that bridge where I had stood, looking for this one signage that I did not capture then. I was stopped by a young fellow protester who was no older than 16, who denied me access to the footbridge where the sign was because I did not have a staff pass to the building that the bridge led to. Protesters were restricting access to the bridge in fear of police clearance. But I got through to photograph the sign in the end. It read:
“During the 1989 student movement, there was a time when it was like a carnival in Tiananmen Square. The students and citizens were dancing and singing together, thinking that their resistance would win because of the huge masses. No one could imagine what happened afterwards. Do not forget why you are here, stay strong and determined.”
In another historical moment and in another place some 73 years ago, a poet had written to his people some verses in Urdu that feel like ours. I think they beckon us too, today.
Speak, your lips are free.
Speak, it is your own tongue.
Speak, it is your own body.
Speak, your life is still yours.
See how in the blacksmith’s shop
The flame burns wild, the iron glows red;
The locks open their jaws,
And every chain begins to break.
Speak, this brief hour is long enough
Before the death of body and tongue:
Speak, ’cause the truth is not dead yet,
Speak, speak, whatever you must speak.
“Bol” (Speak) by Faiz Ahmed Faiz, published in ‘Naqsh-e-Feryadi’, 1941.
Originally published here http://www.inmediahk.net/node/1027625
It took a week to prepare, before a group of experienced climbers could scale the highly symbolic Lion Rock and erected a massive 6x28m banner proclaiming “I want true democracy – Umbrella Movement”
Here’s the behind the scene video of how they hung the banner
Lion Rock holds a special significance across the city courtesy of Roman Tam’s “Below The Lion Rock” a 1979 cantopop song whose message is that Hongkongers can overcome all challenges if they are united.
Belle and Sebastian, live in Hong Kong
When: 15 February, 2015
Where: Asia World Arena
How much: $760 (all standing)
More info: Available from www.hkticketing.com from 10am on Friday 24 October
Gaucho Argentine steak restaurant recently opened in Hong Kong having been a staple of the London dining scene for many years. At the media preview Head of Grills Fernando Larroude talked us through the four cuts of Argentine Beef that provide the core of the restaurants menu rump, sirloin, rib-eye and fillet – your waiter will explain the cuts to you when you dine. The restaurant prides itself on the provenance of its grass-fed free-range beef, and from the small tasting samples, the beef was flavourful and tasty. One of the options on the menu is sampler featuring all four cuts – 1.2kg of beef, $998 – not often you can compare cuts.
As with most steak houses you can have your meat cut, prepared and cooked anyway you choose with steaks ranging in size from 225g to 2kg, prices vary accordingly. Sides are all extra. There’s an extensive range of starters, including delicious empanadas, and deserts picked from dishes that have proved popular in London and Dubai and for those who don’t like steak there are options including two vegetarian risottos.
The wine cellar is slightly unique in that it’s all Argentinean and currently offers a choice of over 100 wines, although this will eventually reach around 180. If you want to bring your own bottle, corkage is $300/bottle.
Lots of the more obvious things are not listed on the menu – a simple example is there’s no listing of every option of coffee. Ask your server for what you want/like, and with the heavy emphasis on friendly knowledgeable service it’s sad to see the ubiquitous 10% service charge already added.
Gaucho is open now for dinner: 6-11pm and lunch: noon-3pm.
Gaucho Hong Kong: 5/F, 31 Queens Road Central. Tel: 2386 8090 email: email@example.com
Did the leader of Hong Kong (supported and backed by Beijing) really say to the whole world that the lives, opinions and choices of people who earn less than US$1,800/month – roughly HK$10,000 – don’t matter.
CY, people who earn less than $10,000 month know how to budget, they appreciate each dollar earned and look for value in every dollar spent – something the government could learn from!
Just because you don’t earn a lot of money doesn’t mean you don’t have brains, common sense, opinions and a right to have a say in how your country is run. And as your own daughter has proved, just because you have money doesn’t stop you being a idiot.
The very reason people are on the streets CY is because you stopped listening to them, stopped looking out for all Hongkongers interests – which is the job of Chief Executive. You have only ever looked out for yourself and listened to those who put money in your pocket – that’s fine for a businessman.
But you’re Chief Executive now and responsible for all HongKongers interests. Perhaps you’ve forgotten who puts the majority of money into your wealthy friends pockets… it comes from those 2 million or so who earn less than $10,000. That’s $20billion a month in spending power, most of which is profit to your greedy tycoon cronies.
The people who power Hong Kong’s economy are the very people you insult with your comments and wish to disenfranchise.
We’re on the streets because we want a Chief Executive who looks out for all Hongkongers interests – not just his own. The existing method of selection hasn’t provided that, so we want change. Quite simply if you thought more about those who earned less than $10,000/month or even $15,000/month with your policies and public spending, then we wouldn’t be on the streets. And those policies have got nothing to do with the basic law – it’s incompetence and greed on the part of you and your tycoon friends that’s destroying Hong Kong.