Times of Turbulence, Our Call to Resistance: HKCTU's statement on International Workers' Day 2021
“What else can we do now?” This is a question asked by the people of Hong Kong in 2021.
It is no longer an option after 2019 to believe in normalcy. Bidding farewell in courtrooms and prison have become the new ”normal”. Our fellow comrades were sent to jail, forced to leave; some even lost their lives. Imprisoned for standing up to tyranny, hundreds became political prisoners. Among them were protestors who bravely stood at the frontlines on the streets, as well as candidates charged subversion for participating in the pro-democracy camp primaries. When the people are standing up to tyranny, the differences of being a “radical” and a “peaceful protestor” no longer matter—together they resist tyranny.
Workplaces have now become a place loaded with shifting and never-ending coercion. People of different professions have to tip-toe their way during work, the tension comparable to the Cultural Revolution. Reporters seeking information through company registry searches are charged with “making false statements”; Liberal Studies teachers are removed from their positions for performing their duties; social workers are charged with rioting; and medical workers are targeted for their strike in demanding for swift government responses during a pandemic. It is neither protestors nor one’s profession the tyrant is targeting to suppress; it is the people of Hong Kong, who truthfully respond to their profession, their morality, and their conscience that the regime is now attempting to suppress.
In the name of the pandemic, those in power are stripping away the freedoms of Hong Kong’s people. Instead of establishing unemployment aid, the government spent 4 billion sending Hong Kong youths for jobs in China – a move that signals just how insignificant Hong Kong’s people are to the government. Years of effort attempting to abolish the MPF offset mechanism as well as to formulate standard working hours came to a halt after the pro-establishment camp took over the Legislative Council. Salaries of medical workers who stood at the frontline of the pandemic were frozen, minimum wage remained unchanged; the cost of economic downtimes, as always, were borne by grassroots and frontline workers. Never are these costs acknowledged or borne by those truly responsible.
In the name of “Patriots administering Hong Kong”, the Chinese Communist Party is further mutilating the quasi-democratic law-making body of Hong Kong. “Improving the electoral system” is simply sugar-coating the attempts to replace lawmakers in Hong Kong with rubber stamps. A post-national security political order is now in the making: the authority’s iron fist is now attempting to affix China’s authoritarian order in Hong Kong, suffocating all means of expression within the system in Hong Kong.
The system has crumbled, and the people of Hong Kong is now scattered across different places. The movement in Hong Kong reached a deadlock, but not the people of Hong Kong. The spirit of resistance remained in the minds of the people. Writing to those imprisoned, supporting pro-democracy businesses become our habits. Sustaining the resistance in everyday life is solid prove to the fact that we have not given up. To stay behind is to take that extra step and step out of our comfort zone; to stay behind is to maintain connections among the people who share the same belief.
The sacrifices made by our fellow people had been immeasurable. There are no more safe exits. It is the obligation of the civil society in Hong Kong to stand up against the “new order” at the frontlines. Unions are defending professionalism across trades against “professional standards” as set by the regime, and defending the morality of the Hong Kong people. There is a mission of unions in this era to bring in the spirit of resistance in workplaces and to connect the different pockets of the civil society.
On this Labour Day, we invite the Hong Kong people who have stayed to work with what we already have. To begin even with the smallest of things, to support those imprisoned, to launch campaigns at various fields of work. We invite the people of Hong Kong to rekindle the flames of resistance, to continue to unfinished work of our fellow people in turbulent times as such.