Workers in the Battle
The anti extradition bill movement has evolved into anti-Totalitarianism, anti-police violence, and a fight for universal suffrage. Workers from different industries has been involved. What are their stories?
‘Ming’ Lai-Ming Hui and Jackie Chan say that ‘they are expected to be beaten.’ Ming believes that social workers should act as mediators between the two sides by explaining the situation to both parties at the time. ‘Sometimes it seems very tense, but it is not always the actual case.’ She recalls an incident after a demonstration in Kowloon. The protesters were departing from Shantung Street, Mongkok, there were rumours that the Mongkok MTR station had closed, and the tension escalated while fully-equipped police officers confronted the protesters. Act as an intermediary at that time, Ming told the police that the crowd were leaving. Eventually, conflict was avoided.
A construction worker who specialized in bar bending and fixing, ‘Bar Bender’ Ka-Chi Yip regarded himself as a peaceful protester. After the Umbrella Movement, he felt the social movements are plunged into the doldrums. Few people turned up for the movements such as ‘anti-co-location arrangement’ or ‘anti-amendments to the Rules of Procedure’. The disqualification of several elected legislators and the plentiful imprisonments of activists due to political prosecutions, as well as the defeat of Cheuk-Yan Lee, make Yip feel nothing but disappointment. Therefore, Ka-Chi took the negative view that the anti-extradition movement would achieve nothing.
Although Ka-Chi was pessimistic, he didn’t stop. He took part in most of the peaceful marches. ‘I joined the march on March 31. There were 13,000 people. It was poorly attended, given the severity of the extradition bill.’ Even the march on April 28, which took place after the nine defendants in the 2014 Occupy Movement were convicted, ‘130,000 people attended, it was a really small turnout, far from enough.’ Then he joined the demonstrations on June 9 and June 16 with his elderly parents. ‘June 12 is the turning point, on that day my mother urged me not to go to Admiralty because of the danger. I said that my job as a “bar bender” is also dangerous, my chance of dying at work is high. Going to Admiralty is not that scary. She did not stop me. She knew that I was right.’'
As an expectant mother, Anna knows the path ahead of her baby is not an easy one. ‘Our next generation will have to take the harder path. But we have to maintain hope. We have to teach them to distinguish between right and wrong. We have seen that in the anti-extradition movement, it is the youth who made the impossible possible. Without the change of regime in China, our next generation will still have to struggle. I hope all the parents will teach the youth to do what is right, protecting them by teaching them to be virtuous.’
In the anti-extradition movement, the fatal fall of ‘martyr’ Ling-Kit Leung immediately reminded of Yue of Ming and his ideals. ‘Just like Ming, many young people cherish peace and freedom, but the government has never responded to them.’ Yue feels that she owes a lot to young people. ‘These youngsters have protected the city, they blocked the extradition bill that would have been passed.’ Ming could no longer participate, but his spirit lies in solidarity with the protesters.
This summer, Yue marched while wearing a t-shirt with Ming's photo printed on it. Ming is gone, but she has her youngest son Yuk joining. The anti-extradition movement has stimulated Yuk's awareness of current affairs, who was previously indifferent to politics in general. Yuk has filled in his elder brother's role and became his mother's comrade, in solidarity with Hong Kong people.