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Common Nonsense:Music from the ballot box

【明報專訊】''I watched, along with all of you, as the tens of thousands of our people stood patiently in long queues for many hours, some sleeping on the open ground overnight waiting to cast this momentous vote.''

Nelson Mandela said dispassionately in Carlton Hotel, Johannesburg on 2 May 1994, the Election Day, the day when Mandela would be elected as the President of South Africa, signifying the end of the apartheid (南非種族隔離) era and a rebirth of the nation. Then he added resoundingly, ''... it is you, the people, who are our true heroes.''

We, alas, don't have much open ground to sleep on in Hong Kong but we nevertheless did cast our votes early in the District Council election last Sunday without much sleep. It was a fair morning, a fair day. Street protesters were invisible but their reservation and reticence were too noticeable as if they were dancing in the dark to bless all of us. The voters echoed the street protesters' zeal, blindingly visible in the shape of our voting queues, vote numbers and the vote counts.

We, the people, are true heroes. We the people are the continuity of the street protests rocking this city in the past few months. The unnerving noise of those protests is now music. Do you hear that?

Music survives tyranny but hardly ends tyranny. Shostakovich's music was mostly written in the heyday of Joseph Stalin's tyranny. The Soviet people heard the music but the music was heard only against the iron walls of authoritarianism. Now my disc player is playing his Cello Concerto No 1 interpreted by Han-Na Chang, always solemn, serene and solitary. Chang was the disciple of Mstislav Rostropovich for whom Shostakovich first composed the concerto. The piece was written in 1959, a few years after Stalin's death but the Party still thrived and would thrive for another three decades before its most welcome demise. Apparently music doesn't kill the tyranny which only winds up itself. The Soviet Union only imploded in 1991 in the hands of Mikhail Gorbachev long after Shostakovich's death.

The landslide victory commanded by the democrats in the District Council election speaks the popular will with a high pitch. Carrie Lam heard that but immediately dismissed and twisted it in her perverted language that the voters opposed to violence with their votes. Her words are ominous as if the government she leads is too ready to brush aside our message as well as our aspirations.

We rather trust that the use of force is sometimes and somehow justified and even warranted to bring down injustice when the system fails the people flagrantly and openly.

Now the popular will once again chooses to send troops of better people into the system to mend the system, hopefully sparing the street protesters' tears, toils and blood to be further shed on the street, trusting that the system is still not beyond our mending. But the darkness is still pressing, we are guided by the music and we have every reason to be vigilant until we see the dawn.

''The ideals we cherish, our fondest dreams and fervent hopes may not be realised in our lifetime. But that is besides the point. The knowledge that in your day you did your duty, and lived up to the expectations of your fellow men is in itself a rewarding experience and magnificent achievement.'' So wrote Mandela to Ms Sheena Duncan, the president of Black Sash, a white women association campaigning for the abolishment of apartheid. It was 1 April, 1985, years after Mandela had been transferred from Robben Island to Pollsmoor Maximum Security Prison. It was still the time when the cause of the African People's Congress saw no light from the end of the tunnel, not to mention the vision of their people voting for their first president of their range and colour.

May our music go on and so does the change.

By Lawrence Lau 劉偉聰

作者簡介﹕​Lawrence is a life debater who has to debate with his life. Being a barrister makes him a living while reading and writing gives him a life. This is his cat 陳寅恪.

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