'Umbrella Revolution' finally ends in failure

Updated: 2014-12-15 06:38

By Lau Nai-keung(HK Edition)

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The clearance of the Admiralty "Occupy" zone was an anti-climax. It was totally uneventful, with no resistance whatsoever. Short of the symbolic gesture of our dissidents putting their hands up in the air, it was an unconditional surrender.

The umbrella has now been folded, and the revolution using its name has been proved to be a total failure, forsaken by the very Hong Kong citizens it claimed to represent. This time, a color revolution plot has been foiled on Chinese soil. This is a feat never accomplished anywhere else in the world. It should have hopefully inoculated our 1.3 billion people from another attempt for the next two decades.

'Umbrella Revolution' finally ends in failure

The dissidents have threatened to continue their awful, divisive movement in the community. This I very much doubt. If their cause had had the support of the general population, the Umbrella Revolution (which was supported both materially and in spirit by the Americans and the British) would have succeeded in the first place. Soon its cheerleaders will have all gone, so who is left to lead it? A lone crusader will not last long. These dissidents never seem to have had the conviction and faith of true revolutionaries. They showed the world they are nothing but a bunch of bad-tempered, spoilt brats who believed that if they made a scene long enough, the world (like their parents) would submit to their unreasonable demands.

They have cried long and hard enough, but all to no avail. Coming from them this is predictable behavior but if we pay any attention to their empty threats they will think they have succeeded in getting our attention, and will start again. Hong Kong should just ignore them, as most people have done over the past 75 days, and nothing significant will happen. But the problems remain and won't diminish after this failed attempt at a coup. Hong Kong is divided over these issues. The mainstream media suggests we should have a great reconciliation to heal the wounds in our community. This would imply leniency to those who incited the commotion, especially student leaders to whom our society usually accords special status.

Some of these trouble-makers obviously have very close connections with external forces and are probably funded by them. Therefore, they must be punished. But under current legislation their sentences will probably be light. The chances are some of them will retain their jobs. This is unlikely to have a deterrent effect, but there is nothing we can do about this as long as we respect the rule of law.

'Umbrella Revolution' finally ends in failure

As for the students - even Joshua Wong - we should teach them a lesson but probably let them off lightly. After all, they are practically minors and what do they really know? They have a whole life ahead of them. Hong Kong should give them a second chance and hope they will have a better understanding of political realities when they are more mature.

But these are not the real problems facing Hong Kong. Nor are poverty and housing which Chief Secretary for Administration Carrie Lam vowed to tackle after the clearances. If these were the real problems, and our society was as unfair and undemocratic as the dissidents claimed, most people would have sided with the Umbrella Revolution and they would have won. But recent events have proven this to be an incorrect assertion. Although our government should still do its best to alleviate poverty and provide more affordable housing, this is obviously not the main problem they should be addressing.

The SAR government, from top to bottom, has for years tried to avoid the problem of allegiance. They have not wanted Hong Kong citizens to be conscious of the fact that Hong Kong is part of China and that there is a central government sovereign over the SAR government. This has bred a potent virus of nativism which is still haunting us.

These people occupying Admiralty don't really want democracy; all they want is democracy in the form of being independent from the influence of the central government. Nativism, of course, has yet to become mainstream in Hong Kong, but many people are obviously sympathetic to it. This is where the danger lies, and it is this issue that should be tackled head-on.

The author is a veteran current affairs commentator.

(HK Edition 12/15/2014 page6)