CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Sunday, 1 September 2019

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Real democracy cannot be achieved in haste says Cardinal Zen

HONG KONG (SE): At the screening on December 30 of a documentary, Umbrella Diaries: The First Umbrella, about the Umbrella Movement, Joseph Cardinal Zen Ze-kiun, the former bishop of Hong Kong, said people in the movement had already achieved something by showing their strong desire for real universal suffrage. However, he also urged them to have a strategy and not to expect a quick victory.
 
“Do not be impatient for a result, it is dangerous,” he said.
 
Two screenings were organised by the Justice and Peace Commission and the League of Social Democrats at St. Vincent’s parish, Wong Tai Sin, on December 29 and 30. 
 
Besides the cardinal, guest speakers included Benny Tai Yiu-ting, one of the three founders of the Occupy Central movement, as well as Tommy Cheung Sau-yin, former president of the Student Union of the Chinese University of Hong Kong, and Raphael Wong Ho-ming, vice-chairperson of the League of Social Democrats, among many others who took part in the movement. 
 
The three, together with six other advocates, face incitement charges and verdicts are expected to be reached on April 9. 
 
Executive producer, Shu Kei, and director, James Leong, were also asked to talk about the production process. 
 
The documentary begins with the candlelight vigil at Victoria Park, Causeway Bay, on 4 June 2014, to the police dispersal of Umbrella Movement demonstrators using pepper spray and tear gas on September 28.  
 
Leong said it took three years to edit the footage as he tried to present the movement from different viewpoints, including that of the three founders of Occupy Central, student leaders as well as members of the general public who spontaneously took part later. In this way, he hoped to make a documentary that would allow people to draw their own conclusions about the event. 
 
The director said the developments after 28 September 2014, such as how the police dispersal triggered sit-in protests in different areas of Hong Kong for 79 days, would be covered in the second part of the movie. He hoped to release it next year on the fifth anniversary of the Umbrella Movement.
 
Cardinal Zen, who showed constant concern about the movement in 2014, as well as for the student leaders imprisoned afterwards, said the documentary is a valuable source of information. He said that it made a clear record of how Hong Kong people have been fighting for universal suffrage in a rational and peaceful way, proved by the high turnout of over 790,000 voters in an unofficial referendum on universal suffrage in June 2014.
 
The cardinal said the documentary also illustrated the beauty of Hong Kong people, as it documented how protestors stuck to their ethical principles to keep the protest peaceful, including caring for the safety of the fellow protestors, showing empathy with the police and telling the crowd not to charge the police.
 
Observing that even though the movement seems to have achieved nothing at present, he quoted Bao Tong, a Chinese advocate, who said in an article published by Radio Free Asia on 4 September 2014 that Occupy Central achieved two things: first, making a clear historical record that Hong Kong people demand universal suffrage and their determination to fight for it is really strong; second, it illustrated the truth that Beijing does not intend to offer real universal suffrage, as the movement was sparked by the decision of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress on 31 August 2014 that prescribed a selective pre-screening of candidates for the election of chief executive in 2017. 
 
The cardinal reminded people not to expect quick victories or to be easily be tempted to “upgrade their actions” as any impulsive act may cause unnecessary sacrifices. 
 
He encouraged them to know when to stop and wait for a good timing, and it is only in this way that they can “make the biggest achievement with minimal effort.”
 
Tai, on the other hand, said he felt especially touched seeing the large number of people spontaneously joining. He chuckled that the documentary may have a lot of episodes as the fight for democracy is a long one with tougher trials ahead and cannot be successful without strong faith. 
 
He believes there is also a need for people to develop trust between themselves. He said the Justice and Peace Commission and the League of Social Democrats, two parties that rarely work together, showed how, by co-organising the screenings, trust can develop.
 
The two screenings were attended by over 400 people. Many raised their hands to show that they voted in unofficial referendum, took part in the democracy protests in 2014, or even suffered from the tear gas of the police.
 
Among the attendants were Catherine Su Wu-ying, a retired educational practitioner. She told the Sunday Examiner that said she appreciates the young people in the movement who have dreams and courage. However, at the same time, she also worried about their future, thinking that they may pay too high a price if imprisonment is involved. 
 
She said the film allowed her to review and know more about the movement so that she could think about her own role in Hong Kong.

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