As one of the world’s most unequal cities, why aren’t Hong Kong protesters angry at the rich and powerful? 香港貧富懸殊於世上名列前茅,為何示威者並未遷怒於權貴?

Jennifer Creery_Occupation of Sha Tin New Town Plaza_Monday 5 AUG 2019

By Toby CarrollCity University of Hong Kong

托比 • 卡羅爾著(香港城市大學)

There have been many explanations for the turmoil in Hong Kong, which is now heading toward its 16th weekend. However, the powerful links between the economic and political elites in the city and the grossly inadequate system of governance they preside over are too often ignored.
香港目前嘅動盪已經踏入第十六個周末,有人對此提出各種成因。不過,仲有兩方面的因素備受忽視,即本港政治精英同經濟精英之間的強大連繫,以及佢哋領導下千瘡百孔嘅管治系統。

In explaining the source of Hong Kong’s unrest, many leaders have predictably blamed the teaching of liberal studies in schools. The notion that students should gain a critical understanding of politics and society – not to mention actively participate in these – is simply too much for those who believe they must make the big decisions.
有唔少社會領袖,一如所料,把香港動盪歸咎於中學嘅通識科課程。通識教育嘅理念,係要培養學生對政治與社會嘅批判性理解。但領導階層覺得,所有重大嘅決定都必須由佢地來做,通識理念所鼓勵嘅批判精神,更遑論鼓勵學生積極參與政治社會活動,實在讓領導階層覺得難以接受。

On the other side, the ire of many protesters is overwhelmingly directed toward China and the Hong Kong government, particularly Chief Executive Carrie Lam. Lam’s actions – first disappearing and then reappearing with equal measures of bureaucratic steeliness and obstinacy – have only made matters worse, as have the actions of a police force once revered by many as “Asia’s finest” and the posturing of Chinese forces. Indeed, the sum total of these efforts has been a hardening localist identity that has become more apparent among the protesters as the unrest has continued.
對於支持呢次社會運動嘅人士,好多示威者嘅憤怒與不滿,針對嘅係中國内地同埋特區政府,尤其係行政長官林鄭月娥。返送中運動期間,佢先係消失咗好耐,到再次出現時,卻係以冰冷且冥頑不靈嘅官腔嚟回應市民。香港警察當年曾經被譽爲「亞洲最精良部隊」,但係本次示威中嘅所作所爲,再加上内地軍事演習,只係火上加油。上述種種行為實際上強化了香港人嘅本土身份,而呢種身份認同喺示威者當中越嚟越明顯。

Moreover, mutual animosity has grown to such an extent that backing down by either side would seem unlikely. Indeed, for the last few weeks it has been much easier to imagine escalation than the opposite.
再者,雙方嘅敵意已經擴大到一個程度,任何一方讓步嘅可能性看來都唔大。事實上,係過去幾個星期,想像暴力升級容易過想像情況得到改善。

Decline without hope 有衰退,無希望

However, the most likely explanation for the unrest lies not in the education curriculum or Beijing’s influence over the city, but rather the nature of Hong Kong government and society itself.
然而,呢次社會動盪最爲合理嘅成因,既非教育課程,亦非北京對香港嘅影響力,而在於香港政府及香港社會嘅本質。

Despite the way the Hong Kong government markets itself to the world – emphasising the rule of law and promoting the city’s high-quality business environment – the city has actually been in decay for decades.
儘管本港政府向國際社會推廣香港時,特別強調法治與其優質營商環境,但實際上,過去幾十年來,香港已逐漸衰退。

Firstly, Hong Kong has been subject to the “hollowing out” processes that have plagued many former industrial economies – a situation in which industry leaves and nothing replaces it.
首先,香港同好多前度工業型經濟體一樣, 深受「空洞化」過程之痛,即各種工業撤走以後,並未有其他經濟活動填補空白。

Importantly, this has been coupled with an inability of those at the top end of town to recognise the vast inequalities this has contributed towards. According to government statistics, Hong Kong’s wealth gap hit a historic high in 2017, with the wealthiest households earning 44 times the poorest.
與此同時,本港嘅最高領導層根本無法意識到,此「空洞化」過程帶來巨大嘅貧富差距。據政府統計,香港貧富差距於2017年錄得歷史新高,最富裕住戶嘅收入係低收入住戶嘅44倍。

For many here, life is experienced in the form of stalling or declining social mobility, sky-high housing prices (the most expensive in the world), dire air quality, crumbling infrastructure (the subway system and airport being the only exceptions), highly uneven education and health services (despite the trumpeted statistics), and lack of decent public spaces.
對於本港許多市民而言,生活中唔再有向上流動嘅空間,甚至可能地位下降,樓價高企 (全世界樓價最貴嘅地方),空氣質素惡劣,基礎建設不足 (地鐵與機場除外),教育與醫療服務水平參差不齊 (即使表面數據看來可觀),以及似樣嘅公共空間寥寥無幾。

Long delays to move into public housing are the norm. “Nano apartments” smaller than a parking bay are the only housing option for many, with many flats in the city housing multiple generations of families.
公屋輪候時間長已經係常態。所謂嘅「納米樓」,雖然細過泊車位,但已經係唔少市民嘅唯一選擇。對於本港好多家庭而言,單位雖細,但幾代人卻不得不逼係同一屋簷下 。

Young Hong Kongers who have been raised on the city’s golden age stories of tycoons like Li Ka Shing (known here affectionately as “Superman”) also face depressing futures in low-paying service jobs.
香港年輕一代,都聽講過有關呢個城市黃金時代嘅故事,例如俗稱「李超人」嘅富豪李嘉誠如何白手興家。可是,年輕一代前途堪憂,別無選擇,只可從事低薪嘅服務業。

Moreover, higher education hasn’t helped young people secure higher-paying jobs. One recent survey found that average graduate salaries are significantly lower than they were in 1987.
再者,高等教育亦無助年輕人獲取高薪厚職。一個近期調查發現,畢業生嘅平均工資明顯低過1987年時嘅收入。

While market fundamentalists like Milton Friedman famously heralded the entrepreneurialism of Hong Kong. In reality, it’s laissez-faire for the top end of town, and colonial-era bureaucracy for the rest. Young people contemplating opening a business face oligopolies, rapacious landlords eager to gain from the first signs of success and, in some sectors, rigid government regulations.
衆所周知,倡導市場經濟嘅人士,如美國經濟學家佛利民,曾經讃揚香港嘅工商企業精神。事實上,自由放任的經濟只適用於少數社會頂層嘅精英,其餘大多數人都受制於殖民時期遺留下來嘅官僚式管理。年輕人要創業,面對幾大巨頭集團嘅壟斷,仲有貪婪嘅業主迫不及待嘅壓榨,而部分界別的初創企業仲要遵從政府種種嘅嚴苛法規。

Making matters worse, anything vaguely progressive in a redistributive sense is often dismissed by anti-government protesters as too narrowly focused on economic factors at the expense of democratic reforms.
雪上加霜嘅係,任何有輕微要求對財富進行再分配嘅進步建議,往往會被反政府示威者所拒絕,認爲此等措施過於側重經濟因素,罔顧民主制度上的變革。

Much like the United States, which has become a positive reference point for many protesters, a pull-yourself-up-by-the-bootstraps individualism prevails in Hong Kong.
香港社會彌漫著一種強調自力更生嘅個人主義,呢一點同美國好相似,唔少示威者亦都把美國視爲正面嘅參考指標。

Frustratingly, rather than taking aim at the tycoons and conglomerates that dominate the economy, or the property developers and landlords who control the housing market, the main target of the protesters has been the government.
令人沮喪嘅係,示威者心目中主要嘅抗爭對象一直都係政府,而唔係主導經濟嘅富豪及大型財團,或操縱樓市嘅發展商同業主。

And the protesters don’t condemn the government for protecting the elite’s economic interests to the exclusion of many Hong Kongers, but rather for implementing the will of Beijing.
示威者譴責特區政府,係因為佢地覺得政府只係會執行中央嘅指令,但佢地唔會指責政府只保護精英階層經濟利益而漠視大多數香港市民嘅需要。

Why protesters aren’t focusing on economic elites  示威者爲何未有針對經濟界別精英

Indeed, even after some of the richest people in the territory voiced support for the government in recent weeks, very few in the protesting camp have turned their anger towards the city’s economic elites.
事實上,雖然過去幾星期內,特區某些超級富豪公開表示支持政府,但係反對陣營中甚少人遷怒於香港經濟界別嘅精英。

This fact speaks to the power of the founding myths of modern Hong Kong and how the city’s rich made good. There’s a certain reverence for the city’s tycoons that persists here, along with a lack of class consciousness and an ingrained ideological hostility towards anything vaguely left-leaning politically.
此事實充分證明,現代化香港嘅崛起神話和富豪白手興家嘅發跡史,依然極具影響力。本港富豪一直深受普遍市民尊敬。同一時間,社會上普遍缺乏階級意識,對於任何略帶左派色彩嘅政治思想,會有意識形態上根深蒂固嘅敵意。

Moreover, while universal suffrage is a key part of the demands made by protesters, this overwhelmingly relates to the selection of the chief executive, not the structure of the government itself.
雖然落實「普選」乃示威者訴求中嘅重要一環,但該訴求太過側重特首選舉嘅安排,而非政府本身結構問題。

For instance, under an anachronistic colonial arrangement known as the “functional constituencies”, a host of economic sectors (such as the financial services, real estate and tourism) gain political representation in the Legislative Council at the expense of citizens.
例如,「功能界别」係殖民地時代嘅制度,但此過時嘅制度安排令好多經濟界別人士(包括金融服務、房地產及旅遊業等)能夠喺立法會中取得政治代表席位,而普羅大眾則無人代表。

Crucially, too, little effort has been made to explain why universal suffrage would be so important in Hong Kong beyond thwarting China’s influence. This has limited the formation of lasting coalitions within the protest movement that could rally around the idea of using increased political power to resolve pressing social issues.
此外,另一至關重要嘅問題係,大多數評論只提及普選係為咗抵抗中國嘅影響,而冇解釋真普選點解對香港如此重要。其實,真普選可以令大眾擁有更多嘅政治權力,從而著手解決各種迫切嘅社會問題。此重要性可以聯合示威運動裏面不同派別,形成持久嘅聯盟。但僅靠抵抗中國此一點,持久聯盟形成嘅可能性唔大。

Combined with some protesters flying American, British and colonial flags and waving pictures of US President Donald Trump on top of a tank, the movement often appears to be erring closer towards being just another form of reactionary populism.
除此以外,示威遊行期間仲通常會有人揮舞美國、英國或者殖民地時代嘅旗幟,並揮動印有美國總統特朗普企响坦克上面嘅圖片。所以,在外人眼裡,呢次社會運動不時好似錯誤地走向另一種反動嘅民粹主義。

 Rebuilding hope and the city 重建希望,重建香港

The fact that young people are grappling with forging a more positive future is to be admired. However, for Hong Kong to have any reasonable future, the city requires nothing short of large-scale economic and political transformation.
咁多年輕人努力不懈、艱苦力爭以求更美好嘅將來,係值得讚賞嘅事實。不過香港要有一個合理嘅將來,便須於經濟上同政治上作大規模變革。

Universal suffrage is one part of this, but in isolation it is insufficient. The question for Hong Kong is whether the protesters and other members of society recognise what needs to be done in a holistic sense and can pull together to make it possible.
要達到此目標,需要落實「普選」,但此單一變革並唔足夠。香港所面對嘅難題係,示威者同其他社會人士是否能夠意識到全面改革之所需,並且齊心合力去實現。

In a city characterised by vast inequalities in economic and political power, this challenge is nothing short of revolutionary in the genuine sense of the word.
香港係一個經濟與政治權力極不平等嘅城市,佢所面臨嘅挑戰可謂真正意義上嘅「革命」。

 

*** Previously published in The Conversation and HKFP on the 27th of September
***英文原文在2019年9月27日刊載於 The Conversation 及 Hong Kong Free Press 網站。

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