Dear Hong Kongers,
I handed in my resignation letter last week. This marks the end of my work in the Legislative Council.
10 years ago, when I decided to leave the ICAC to return to work for the Democratic Party, during an interview with the Hong Kong Economic Journal, I said, “When we look back at the events that happened in the past hundred years in Chinese history, we should be grateful that dissidents like us are still able to speak our views freely and continue to make a living, and not be subject to exile, imprisonment and decapitation.” Looking back, the only thing that has not happened yet is decapitation.
To be frank, I have never underestimated the Communist Party’s cruelty. I was only 12 years old when the Party used machine guns and tanks to massacre the students in Beijing in order to preserve their power. When I decided to rejoin the Democratic Party, I was well prepared for a gradually increasing level of suppression by the regime; I just never expected the pace to skyrocket the way it did this past year.
Under an authoritarian regime, it is considered normal for politicians to face imprisonment. I have no regrets: this is my vocation and responsibility. I have this responsibility because of my love for Hong Kong and because of my stubbornness. I firmly believe times will change and that one day, full democracy will triumphantly take root in Hong Kong.
The night is always darkest before the dawn. We must persevere despite the challenges. There is no doubt that the authoritarian regime will further crack down on journalists, academics, members of the judiciary, those in the medical profession, social workers, civil servants, pro-democracy activists and supporters, etc. I believe that the new wave of suppression will consist of the following:
1. It will include District Councillors and public officers in the existing oath provisions so that they can politically screen candidates and disqualify those they deem “disloyal” to the CCP;
2. Markedly restrict mass gatherings and demonstrations even after the pandemic is over, citing public order and safety concerns; organizers will be charged with serious offences;
3. Cite the Emergency Regulations Ordinance as an excuse to maintain social stability, execute seizures of outspoken media outlets, and block websites to deter public donations in support of the movement.
4. Intervene in different professional sectors: government and quasi-governmental bodies will be established to issue licenses as a way to control professionals’ “political stance” and override professionalism;
5. Recruit Administrative Officers (AO) based on political allegiance; fully review the political backgrounds of candidates so that AOs can become party members;
6. Government officials and pro-establishment figures will initiate defamation lawsuits frequently, so that pro-democracy figures will face paying hefty sums and will be under constant psychological pressure;
7. Continuously create a climate of fear causing a chilling effect: members of civil society will think that they have no choice but to self-censor themselves; the regime encourages reporting on others, causing a breakdown of mutual trust; an increasing number of people will be forced to leave the city and they will be replaced by large numbers of Mainlanders.
How can Hong Kongers not feel sad and depressed when Hong Kong’s well treasured core values and system are crumbling so rapidly? However, the world is changing: international and domestic political environments are constantly evolving; the internal and external pressure faced by the regime will only increase further in the future. I trust I do not have to elaborate much on what will happen if that continues to be the case. Who can go against history’s course?
Furthermore, Hong Kong is still the Hong Kong we deeply love, we have to come together, unite and march on. We, especially those of us within the democratic camp, must put aside our differences, as we are all protesters under the suppression of the authoritarian regime. We must gather as much force as we can to oppose the regime’s suppression, but also stay alert and flexible in response to the government’s persecution. I will continue to stand firm, fight, and work together with the public in the local community, in cyberspace, and on the streets to guard the truth of the events that happened in the Yuen Long attack, and counteract all the untruthful allegations and spurious statements of the government and the pro-establishment camp.
Under the current climate, some friends felt they were left with no choice but to leave Hong Kong. I fully understand their reasoning and difficulties in making such decisions. However, I respectfully ask all of you not to forget our roots. Help one another out as much as possible: a little support goes a long way. Hold on to the passion for change as long as you can: we, namely all those working for democracy and justice, will rise again. Apart from staying healthy, Hong Kongers should also think outside of the box when it comes to participating in democratic movements: we should all strive to outlive the authoritarian regime. Youngsters should keep equipping themselves, because the future is yours. We should all remember the words of coach Anzai, from the well-loved comic Slam Dunk: “If you give up, the game will be over.”
Lastly, I would like to thank the 39,327 New Territories East voters who voted for me back in 2016. My slogan when I ran for LegCo was “Anti Bid-rigging, Anti-Corruption.” Looking back, I seem to have only achieved half of my mission. The triads no longer monopolize building renovation works, the market is now back on track and there are no building renovation works with sky-high prices anymore. Unfortunately, corruption seems to have gotten worse, and those in power stay in power at the expense of citizens. I also want to thank my team, my colleagues, volunteers and pro-democracy supporters from the bottom of my heart for weathering the storm with me all these years. It is my honour to have fought this battle with you all.
Add oil Hong Kongers!
Lam Cheuk Ting
Hong Kongers, the fight for democracy is far from over. Despite the many difficulties ahead, I will continue to march towards and work for a better future for Hong Kong. Please take care. With you, I look forward to the day when we will celebrate our victory at dawn.