Before Sentencing — Edward Leung’s Letter to the Public (Translated by Chapman Chen) 梁天琦 —— 寫在判刑前

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“In the worst of times, people’s responsibilities are ever more important” — Edward Leung.

Edward Leung, Hong Kong’s top independence activist was sent to prison for six years today (June 11) for rioting and assaulting police over the Mongkok unrest in 2016 . At six pm today, a letter to the public appears on his facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/leungtinkei/photos/a.172255923187252.1073741827.172224869857024/448387822240726/?type=3). In the letter, Leung stresses that only when Hongkongers are rooted in Hong Kong can things possibly improve. He calls upon the rich and the powerful to consider how much public anger may be accumulated by a political system that fails to manifest the will of the people. He admits that Hong Kong’s democratic process is losing ground, but he thinks that in the worst of times, people’s responsibilities are ever more important.  And he advises Hong Kong activists, who undertake to change society, to seek common ground while reserving differences. Moreover, he expresses sincere gratitude to those who have supported him in court, and most importantly, his parents. He believes that if he continues to fight for the good of the next generation, his parents will be pleased. Below please find a full English translation of Leung’s letter.

Before I returned to Hong Kong, I had read a report on the trend of migration in Hong Kong in recent years. The survey reveals that more and more Hongkongers are migrating overseas, and an overwhelming majority of young people are considering emigrating. At the same time, I had also read certain rich and powerful people’s opinions. They say that if young people are not satisfied with the current situation of our society and if they are pessimistic about their prospects here, they may choose to leave, etc. and etc. After reading these two pieces of news, I was bewildered: What kind of environment are we creating for the younger generation in Hong Kong?

To go or to stay is of course a decision to be made by many people. However, when most Hong Kong people, especially the younger generation, no longer care about Hong Kong, and they want to retreat to somewhere else, the future of Hong Kong will be destined. On the other hand, only when we are rooted in this land can things possibly improve. And then Hong Kong will no longer be a floating city.

Of course, the reality is always frustrating, and we all have our own difficulties.

Since the beginning of the trial, the time has rewound to the night of the first day of the Lunar New Year two years ago. Sometimes it moves slow, sometimes it stands still . My world has once again converged with that night and halted there. I believe it will stay there for quite a while.

During the four months of imprisonment, the days were not too sad. I am sincerely grateful to everyone who have come to court to audit my case and who have written to me. Whenever I think of what I saw in the courtroom — a group of defense counsels right in front of me, every familiar or unfamiliar face in the public gallery, every nod, every smile, every gesture, etc. — my courage to face everything grows . In particular, each one of your letters is the only connection I have with the other side of the wall, which makes my heart unspeakably warm. This kind of personal care reminds me of why I engage myself in politics.

Life can influence life. When I was preparing for giving evidence in the witness box, I tried to trace my footsteps from the beginning to the present, recalling the people I met along the way. What always drives me to participate in politics is the search for a free and democratic Hong Kong. In the process of pursuing this ideal society, we see different pictures; we have our own experiences, and we make our individual judgments. Regardless of how we make choices, we invariably have to stumble on the way, in order to make Hong Kong a democratic society. Today, I no longer expect to be approved by others. I only hope that they will have a basic understanding — of how much public anger may be accumulated by a political system that fails to manifest the will of the people, and how many political tumults may be triggered by a unsuccessful constitutional reform. Now that we make Hong Kong our home, whether it thrives or not should be closely bound up with us. A democracy that can fully reflect social opinions should be our common pursuit.

At this time, to talk about democracy or constitutional reform, may sound like cliché or wild fantasy. And indeed, in the face of the absurd reality, all beautiful visions look ridiculous. I do not deny the cruel fact that Hong Kong’s democratic process is losing ground. I just think that in the worst of times, people’s responsibilities are ever more important. Considering the present situation, we do have a lot that we should do but have not.

However, proposing a certain idea in a community will inevitably lead to support and opposition in the community, and differences will manifest in different ways. By the same token, even activists who undertake to change our society may diverge and even split up, as a result of their different priorities in various matters. Before the realization of democracy, maybe we first have to practice democracy, understand various divergences, cherish our differences, and thereby gather more power. Only dictatorship will not tolerate other voices.

From the turmoil of these few years, I have re-learnt a lot of truths written on paper. I want to thank all those whom I have met, especially my parents who brought me to the world. I think that even if I exhaust my life, it is still not enough to repay their loving kindness to me. But if I can learn today’s lesson and continue to fight for the future of the next generation, I believe my parents will be pleased.

10 June, 2018.

梁天琦 —— 寫在判刑前

在我回港前,曾經讀過一篇關於近年香港移民傾向的報道,該調查反映漸多香港人移居海外,而年輕人當中,壓倒性大多數都考慮移民。與此同時,我也讀到某些權貴的言論,大概是呼籲香港青年如對社會現況不滿及對前景悲觀,大可選擇離開云云。我先後閱畢這兩篇新聞,心中充滿疑惑:在香港這地方,我們正為下一代創造怎樣的環境?

去或留固然是許多人面臨的抉擇。但假使香港人,特別年輕一代,都不再留戀香港,退居其他地方,香港的未來也就從此有了定數。相反,我們只有紮根這遍土地,這裏才有改變的可能,香港也不再是座浮城。

當然,現實總是教人氣餒,我們都有各自的困難要面對。

自從審訊開始,時間便倒帶到兩年前的初一夜晚,時而放慢,時而停頓。我的世界再次與當晚接軌,並就此停滯,也相信會逗留好一陣子。

輾轉在囚四個月,日子不算太難過。我衷心感激每位到庭聽審及寫信給我的朋友。每當我想起我在法庭所見的畫面:正前方的一眾辯護律師,公眾席上每張或熟悉或陌生的臉,每一個點頭、微笑、揮手……都增長了我的勇氣去面對一切。特別是你們的每一封信,都是我與高牆以外僅有的連繫,都使我內心無比溫暖。這種人與人之間的關懷,提醒了我因何從事政治

生命能夠感染生命。我在準備作供時,嘗試追溯自己由初走到今天的足印,回想到我一路上遇見的人。由始至終,驅使我參與政治的,是對一個民主、自由香港的追尋。在追尋這個理想社會的過程中,我們看見不同的畫面,有着自身的體驗,也作出各自的判斷。不論我們如何做選擇,要令香港變成民主社會,在路上難免跌跌撞撞。來到今日,我不再奢求他人認同,只望他們有基本的理解 —— 理解一個無法彰顯民意的政治制度會累積多少民憤,而一個失敗的政制改革又會掀起多少政治風波。既然我們在香港安身立命,她的安好與否,理應和我們息息相關;一個能夠充分反映社會意見民主政體,更應是我們共同的追求。

此時此刻,談及民主或是政制改革,也許有點陳腔濫調,又有如痴人說夢話。的而且確,在荒謬的現實面前,一切美好的宏願都顯得可笑。我無否定香港民主進程節節敗退的殘酷事實,我只是覺得在最壞的時代,人的責任也就更為重要。放眼當下,我們確實有許多事應做而未做。

但在一個群體中提出某種主張,群體中必然會出現支持和反對的意見,分歧會以不同的方式呈現。同樣道理,即使同以改變社會為己任,社會運動的參與者亦會因為各事的緩急輕重而有所分歧,甚或是分裂。在實現民主之前,也許我們必須先實踐民主,理解各種分歧,珍惜彼此的差異,並以此為凝聚更大力量的契機,只有獨裁才容不下其他的聲音。

從這幾年的風波,我重新學會了很多寫在紙上的道理。我要感謝所有遇上的人,特別是帶我來到世上的父母親。我想,就算窮此一生,都不夠報答父母親的恩情。但如果我能夠汲取今日的教訓,繼續為下一代的未來而奮鬥,相信父母也會為之高興。

2018年6月10日


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