Another disservice to SAR after Occupy

Editorial | Mary Ma Apr 3, 2018
Occupy Central co-founder Benny Tai Yiu-ting's defense that he didn't mean to call for an independent Hong Kong when talking about it in Taiwan is misleading.

He must have anticipated the series of attacks lavished on him from Beijing and the pro-Beijing camp over the weekend.

The University of Hong Kong law lecturer may be trying to step back from the controversy, insisting he isn't calling for independence - but only after throwing the SAR into a heated debate that's bound to split the city the way he had with Occupy Central two years ago.

Since the protests, society has been polarized to be either "yellow" or "blue," with no shade in between, which bodes ill for everyone.

Tai's remarks would have gone unnoticed in the past as few would take academic discussions like that seriously. The avalanche of attacks on him by the SAR government and nationalists is providing him with the halo he had probably been dreaming for.

Though he was the key figure in Occupy Central, global attention has always been focused on student activist Joshua Wong Chi-fung, who appeared on the cover of Time magazine's Asian edition, and named as one of the world's most influential teens in 2014.

There's a sense of deja vu.

Back then, Tai's Occupy Central invited a strong backlash from Beijing on the SAR's democratic reforms. As a result, the chief executive continues to be elected by the Election Committee, and no timetable has been given for the legislature to be wholly directly elected.

Now, Tai's apocalyptic talk about the communist regime and resurgence of Hong Kong as an independent entity has again provoked the north to extreme anger.

Will this do anything good for the SAR? Will Hong Kong benefit at all? Why did he still do so when he knows such provocation won't win the SAR greater freedom? If he really cares for Hong Kong, he should avoid doing anything that could give Beijing more reasons to tighten reins.

Small wonder some are joking Tai might be a double agent, tasked with stirring up a situation here for Beijing to clamp down on. If that's what Tai had wanted, he's succeeding.

Maybe he believes in martyrdom. However, a true martyr won't put others in danger. He isn't a martyr, or he wouldn't have declared on Facebook that cultural-revolution style persecution may have started with him, and that it would spread quickly to affect everybody else. He's using others as a buffer instead.

At the start of Occupy Central, he declared a readiness for sacrificing himself. So far, only his followers were martyred and jailed.

Could the recent incident in Taiwan have more to do with his feelings that soured, as he watched Wong shoot to worldwide fame and secure a protection umbrella from the international community?

Hong Kong is so tiny that integration with the mainland is its only means for survival.

Even if Tai doesn't accept this reality, he's expected not to undermine it by angering the mighty motherland.

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January 2019