The burdens of the new generation are legion

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[You can read the original post here. Used with permission]

I have watched again “Self-immolator”, one of the shorts from the Hong Kong movie “Ten Years”. The first time I watched it, the final revelation about who committed self-immolation was quite a surprise, because from the actual narration of events, most people believed the self-immolator would have been a radical youngster –nobody would have anticipated that it was an old lady. Watching it again, I have come to realize that the director’s intention was to show how someone from the older generation, by self-immolating herself through fire, can show her utmost anger against the two parties who signed the “Sino-British Joint Declaration”. Through this, she also wishes to encourage the young generation to protect the values inherited from British Hong Kong, to prevent the disintegration of its society and to boldly struggle for it. She chooses to immolate herself in front of the British Consulate because she has already given up on the commitments held by the Chinese Communist Party, whereas the British side of the declaration did not pay enough attention to the future of Hong Kong –for a democratic country, self-immolation is humiliating.

Why an old woman? Because the older generation has witnessed times past and has experienced the negotiations for the prospects of Hong Kong and the signing of the “Joint Declaration”’, personally observing how Hong Kong has fallen after the transfer of sovereignty.

Because the old generation will fade away soon, any change in the future of Hong Kong does not affect their lives. So why should she protest through self-immolation? Because having experienced past and present events, she knows how important the place that has cherished her for so many years is. To burn herself is for the sake of the future generation.

When two years ago the Taiwanese Sunflower Student Movement erupted, the head of an SME by the nickname of “petercilee” wrote an article stating that if the Cross-Strait Service Trade Agreement was ratified, a large number of Mainland Chinese capital would enter Taiwan and, then, the current existing factories, real state, and the available business and contact circles would receive the favor of Mainland Chinese companies, which will result in an increase of the real state value, taking over well-trained staff until they finally became successfully integrated with the Mainland Chinese parent company. Those who did this will become instantly wealthy and have no worries for the rest of their lives. However, Taiwan’s lifeblood, its national SMEs, would have been sponged away. With its talents being taken away to the Mainland, what would be left for Taiwan? He believes that what will most likely be shaken in such an outcome are large groups of SMEs owners like him, who would love to sell their production overseas to enjoy a better life. But he cannot bear to witness the downfall of Taiwan, and because this is his home, he supports the students protesting against the Service Trade Agreement. He said: It is the usefulness of the old generation to chest out and stand still in front of the youngest, throwing their weapons against the enemy, rather than grabbing a rock by their feet and hit their children with it.

I mention the short “Self-immolator” and this old guy because the last Legislative Council elections have brought a generational change with a number of newcomers who lack parliamentary experience. In the new parliament there are many young people, localists, and even newcomers from the pro-establishment camp who are more concerned with local interests. Their future performance is yet to be seen. But I hope that the older generation of politicians will be a little more tolerant with the new generation and, even if they lose against the youth, will not give in to hatred or question their background with conspiracy theories, or label them as “ungrateful”. I think the meaning of the short “Self-immolator” should not be narrowly understood in its literal sense of self-immolation, but rather, as Lu Xun once said, by slightly burning yourself, you can enlighten the future of the youth.

The future belongs to the new generation. Their responsibilities are legion compared to those of our old generation. Just as the French author Albert Camus said in 1957 in his Nobel Prize Acceptance Speech: “Each generation doubtless feels called upon to reform the world. […] its task is perhaps even greater. It consists in preventing the world from destroying itself”.

The first 100 days after the election are the most important for a politician. That is why it is said that “The first 100 days determine the politics of the state”. Newcomers Eddie Chu and Edward Yiu’s debut have not disappointed anyone.

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