【明報專訊】THE situation in Hong Kong is deteriorating. The Education Bureau has announced that classes in all schools will be suspended until Monday. Many people have not been able to go to work as normal either. As the half-paralysis of the city's land transportation system continues, not only is citizens' everyday transport severely affected, but logistic problems have also surfaced gradually.
The new wave of boycotts on three fronts (strikes, boycotts of classes and boycotts by businesses) stemmed from the death of Chow Tsz-lok, an HKUST student who had fallen from height. At first some people in university student groups proposed a general boycott on three fronts for a week. But this is a "leaderless" political movement. The Education Bureau ordered all classes be suspended until Monday. However, judging from the developments, no one can be certain what will happen next. The government has to be prepared for the worst. It would be wishful thinking to believe it is likely that the general strike will end early next week.
The foundations for the rule of law have been shaken, as the authority of the courts is being openly challenged. The Chinese University of Hong Kong's (CUHK) student union applied for an interim injunction, asking the court to prohibit police officers from entering the CUHK campus to enforce the law. But the High Court rejected the application. Hong Kong has an independent judiciary with a sound mechanism for appeals. However, after the ruling was announced, there were violent people who set fire to the Shatin Law Courts Building. The action was one of open contempt of court and an insult to the rule of law. The Law Society of Hong Kong and the Hong Kong Bar Association have publicly condemned the action. The rule of law is the cornerstone of democracy. As the Law Society has stressed, a democracy not underpinned by the rule of law will only result in chaos. If society does not return to rationality and say no to violence, Hong Kong will collapse completely. Not only will we fail to achieve democracy and protect freedom, but the rule of law will also be lost.
The police say that the CUHK campus has become an arms depot and an arsenal of Molotov cocktails. The CUHK's student union insists that it will launch a prolonged campaign to resist the police's entry and will not hesitate to sacrifice themselves. Many people have focused on the confrontation between the police and university students. However, the greatest threat to the CUHK probably comes more from the inside of the campus than from the outside.
Many universities including the CUHK have announced that they would end the semester prematurely, meaning that students and teaching staff will not have to go to campuses anymore. These universities stress that they are mainly concerned about the paralysis of the transportation system and the safety of teachers and students. However, the moves are in effect attempts to evacuate teachers and students. It is questionable whether these universities are in control of the campuses anymore. Worried about personal safety and the threat of violence, nearly one hundred mainland students have temporarily withdrawn from the CUHK and other campuses. Taiwan and South Korea have evacuated their students from Hong Kong's universities. As the turmoil in Hong Kong aggravates, the possibility that more governments will issue higher travel warnings against Hong Kong or even advise their nationals against coming to Hong Kong cannot be ruled out.
Yesterday (November 14) Xi Jinping, the Chinese president, responded to the turmoil in Hong Kong and said he unwaveringly supported the SAR government, police and judiciary in their strict enforcement of the law and punishment of the violent people. A CCTV commentary even said that if the turmoil in Hong Kong continued, "there will not be much time for Hong Kong society's self-correction". The SAR government has a responsibility to come up with a practical and doable proposal to tackle the half-paralysis in society and think more about how to respond to demands from society.
surface : to suddenly appear or become obvious after having been hidden for a while
wishful thinking : the belief that sth that you want to happen is happening or will happen, although this is actually not true or very unlikely
depot : a place where large amounts of food, goods or equipment are stored