What Hong Kong Wants

I’ve been to the various protest sites over the past three weeks at various times.

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They keep changing.

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They keep changing simply because it is the nature of the protests.

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They require a constant infusion of people, energy and creativity, of which Hong Kong has in abundance.

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Hence, I kept raising my camera to my eye.

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These were taken at Mong Kok about three weeks ago.

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There is a need to see, understand and document.

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What Hong Kong wants – that’s not very difficult to understand.

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The writing is very clear.

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What Hong Kong will get, no one knows at this point.

We don’t really have a bird’s eye view.

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All one could do is to keep asking.

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And be willing to do the hard work.

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Sacrifice, toil and labour.

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And pray that something good will come out of it.

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The work of waiting and keeping watch goes on.

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And there’s always hope.

History will be the judge.

 

All images were taken with the Contax TVS street camera and converted into monochrome from a single roll of Fuji Superia 800 film.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Occupy Central: A Festivity

Occupy Central is, of course, a political protest.

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But more than that – it is a festival.

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A celebration of a city becoming itself.

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A joyful gathering of sorts.

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Everyone has a message to share.

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The world is here – judging from the different languages.

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So many dreams and hopes, so much energy.

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The children are here.

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There is music. This is a celebration.

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Though there’re reminders of how serious this is, as a protest.

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Remember what the umbrellas are for.

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Marx: “Philosophers have interpreted the world in various ways; the point is to change it.”

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The students, the future, have spoken.

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Now it’s time to figure things out.

 

Camera: Leica M6;

Lens: Voigtlander Nokton Classic 35mm F/1.4;

Film: Ilford XP2 400.

 

 

 

 

Love and Peace at Admiralty

My wife, my ten-year-old son and I were at Admiralty on the afternoon of 2nd October.

These were scenes at Admiralty: all photographs here were taken by my son.

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Supplies station near Admiralty MTR Station.

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A phone recharging corner.

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The overall sense was that the students were resting in the day.

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The atmosphere was of love and peace. There were many people walking up and down the streets.

There were families with young kids, and tourists were snapping selfies.

It really felt like a tourist attraction. Yes, we’re reminded by the banner above that it’s not a party.

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There were refreshments for protesters and passers-by alike.

I think there’s a dual character to the protest.

It’s more family and tourist-friendly in the day, while at night, things get relatively more serious.

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There were students distributing yellow ribbons.

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The streets at that time were not densely packed at all. I had the feeling that most of the protesters had gone home to rest so as to return later.

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Passers-by were encouraged to leave behind messages.

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This is a protest you could bring your kids to. It has really been a family-friendly protest, in the day at least.

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But the umbrellas were reminders, of course, of how things could turn ugly very quickly.

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The protest so far has the moral high ground because it’s about love and peace.

The protesters are unbelievably civil and polite.

The challenge, I think, is to keep on being civil.

For the protest to fail, the governments of Hong Kong and China have to do precisely nothing.

I am genuinely afraid that frustrations would build among protesters, that there might be internal divisions, that a tiny bit of friction between the police and the protesters might lead to violence.

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It’s a wonderful dream to have – but what happens if the dream doesn’t become reality?

My worry is that my students might become bitter and disenchanted.

In which case, my practical advice would be: hold on to the dream but work with the system, become part of the system, climb whatever corporate/social/political ladders there are in front of you and change the system from within. You’ll then have the Hong Kong you deserve.

The dream of an entire generation of university students is a powerful dream that will never dissipate, no matter what.

You are the future of Hong Kong, no matter what.

Of course, I’m being somewhat pessimistic, and these are early days.

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This has been a thoughtful protest – even the trash was being sorted out for recycling.

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The thoughtfulness that went into creating this ashtray would be the thoughtfulness that would change Hong Kong.

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These are signs of love and peace.

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Police presence was token at best in the day.

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There’s a police recruitment poster at the sidewalk – I was amazed it wasn’t defaced in any way.

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There were speakers’ corners set up at various places.

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Anyone, regardless of whether they were for or against the movement, got to speak for 2-3 minutes should they wish to do so. There was a man who talked about how he argued bitterly with his wife as they were on different sides of the fence with regards to the movement.

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This group was reading aloud a prayer for Hong Kong.

My thoughts and prayers are with you, good people of Hong Kong.

I pray for love, peace and wisdom.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Love and Peace at Mongkok

I’m a Singaporean, a poet, street photographer, and a literature professor at the Chinese University of Hong Kong.

My students have told me they’re boycotting classes indefinitely. I am proud of them. How can one not be moved?

We can only occupy what’s central to our heart: love, peace.

This was what I saw on the streets of Mongkok on the afternoon of 30th Sept.

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Messages pasted on the side of a bus. The tape is removable and non-destructive.

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Delivering supplies to protesters.

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Securing a supplies tent.

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Labour of love.

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Film crew on the rooftop of the entrance to Mongkok MTR Station.

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The message.

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Determination.

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There’re really people cleaning the streets! This is civil disobedience.

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The scene at Argyle Street.

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At one point, the road needed to be cleared for supply trucks.

They held hands to clear the road.

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The scene at Nathan Road.

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No violence. A reminder by a protester.

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Translation: I love Hong Kong. My sentiments exactly.

In Dec this year, I would have lived here for ten years.

My son has spent more than half his life here.

My daughter was born here.

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Note that no spray paint has been used at any point.

They used chalk.

Everything is non-destructive.

This is civil disobedience at work.

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Translation: treasured students, we love you. My sentiments exactly.

The rest of the photographs were taken by my ten-year-old son (who was standing next to me as I was writing this).

Yes – it’s the kind of protest you could bring your kid to.

I saw a few families sitting on the road with kids younger than five.

I want my son to watch and learn.

My son will eventually return to Singapore to do his national service.

He’ll hold a rifle, learn to throw a grenade and experience the effects of tear gas as part of his military training.

These are things I’ve done as a Singaporean twenty years ago.

I want him to know what it means to love one’s country.

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Democracy – that’s an important word I’ll teach my son.

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Medical station.

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A box containing yellow ribbons, with instructions as to how to wear them.

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A street exhibition.

Stay safe and don’t forget to bring your umbrellas, people of Hong Kong!