It’s a grotesque sight, watching the Chinese government criminalize genuine democracy while trying to uphold the terms of the Basic Law by introducing a system that means only approved candidates in full support of the government can ever get to hold power.
余慧明 Winnie Yu, already in detention with another 45 or so individuals for the “crime” of participating in a perfectly peaceful and legal primary election poll in 2020, sums up the matter with her usual incisiveness:
只要你有反對嘅聲音都會一律打壓 | 依個行爲都係想話俾人聽 | 你哋唔好再有任何嘅反抗 | 如果你哋有任何嘅反抗嘅話 | 只會淪得坐監嘅下場
As long as you have voices [expressing] opposition, they will be repressed without exceptions. It’s as if this [legal] action wants to tell people “You must not have any [thoughts of] resisting”. If you do, then all you can do is wind up in jail”.
And she’s right. When they come to be sentenced, most of these individuals will probably be given lengthy prison terms.
This video from the Stand News team is entitled 《假如這是自由的最後一天》 or “If Today were the Last Day of Freedom”. Please watch it if you would like to understand more clearly what is going on in Hong Kong. It’s not a video to enjoy — although it is superbly made — but certainly one to remember. The colossal tragedy both in terms of the waste of human energy and potential and downright injustice will possibly move you to tears . . . But it is a timely reminder of the difficulties democracy everywhere is facing in an increasingly authoritarian world-climate.
Please scroll down for my transcription (it’s a bit ragged, but I’ve done my best), English translation and notes. You can view the video here (you are offered subtitles in both English and Standard Written Chinese). Since it is a YouTube video, you can slow down the playback speed if you wish: at 0.75 and 0.5, the sound quality is still good. And remember, if you want the standard jyutping romanization or to check any of the Chinese in the text, please consult the Sheik Cantonese on-line dictionary.
Update: 鄒家成 Owen Chow was granted bail on 22 June by High Court Judge Esther Toh. The 47 national security suspects are set to appear in a committal proceeding on July 8 2021.
Winnie Yu: When I got the phone call saying that I had to report [to the police station] early, at that moment the feeling I had was, in fact, that Oh, what had to come has come now.
Lucifer Ng: It was like everyone had made this atmosphere for themselves, that tomorrow was like [our] last [free] day ever.
Tiffany Yuen: Every night I fall asleep hugging him in my arms. When I go to prison, I won’t be able to hug him. So then tonight is the last night I will [get to] hug him.
Caption: 假如這是自由的最後一天 | If Today were the Last Day of Freedom
● 鄒家成 | Owen Chow | 16,758 Votes 【0:31】
有一句説話就係「見經如見佛」吖嘛 | 噉你入到去 | 可能有時候我心就唔鎮定咁樣 | 或者冇嘢可以專注到嘅時候，可能 | 見到佢可能會定啲 [囉] | 所以就紋呢個六字大明咒 | 「唵嘛呢叭咪吽」| 噉如果我即時還押 | 再 [搭] 埋條暴動罪 | 就應該十年或以上 [應該] 出唔到嘅 | 噉咪準備吓囉 | 啫，我覺得點都要準備嘅【1:00】| 啫，收到個電話 | 咁知道得有兩日時間 | 噉我撇除一啲工作嘅嘢 | 噉我就 // 預留兩樣嘢係自己個人 // | 就係睇《狂舞派》同埋紋身 | 陪屋企人同陪朋友 | 係自 // 1月6日之後都陪多做嘢 | 噉亦都同屋企人個關係 | // 再，再親近咗啲嘅 | // [可以] 盡咗力去修身齊家 | 老套 | 又「MK」又老套 // | 24歲
● 見經如見佛 gin3 gīng1 yùh4 gin3 faht6 = roughly, “seeing a passage of scripture is equivalent to seeing Buddha himself” | ● 鎮定 jan3 dihng6 = clam; cool; composed; unruffled | ● 專注 jyūn1 jyu3 = to concentrate one’s attention on; to be absorbed in | ● 紋 màhn4 = cf. 紋身 = 1. a tattoo 2. to tattoo | ● 六字大明咒 luhk6 jih6 daaih6 mìhng4 jau3 = the Six-character Great Bright Mantra | ● 唵嘛呢叭咪吽 ám2 maa3 nī1 bāa1 māi1 (?) hūng1 = (the Chinese transliteration equivalent to) Om Mane Padme Hum | ● 撇除 pit3 chèuih4 = (?) to put aside; to eliminate; to remove; the subtitles have “other than work” | ● 修身齊家 sāu1 sān1 chàih4 gāa1 = to cultivate one’s moral character & put one’s family in order | ● MK = roughly, “Mong Kok counterculture” cf. MK仔 = Mong Kok guys (young people who embrace MK counterculture) [Sheik Cantonese] | ● 老套 lóuh5 tou3 = old stuff; old ways; the same old story
Owen Chow: There’s a saying that goes “To see some scripture is the same as seeing the Buddha”. [When] I go inside, maybe sometimes my feelings won’t be stable. Or perhaps there will be times when there’s nothing I can focus my attention on, maybe. Perhaps seeing this [tattoo] will calm me down a bit, so I had a tattoo done of the Six-character Great Bright Mantra Om Mani Padme Hum. If, as it happens, I am taken into custody immediately, and charged with the charge of violence, then [I] won’t be getting out [of prison] for ten years or more. [So I] wanted to get myself ready. I think whatever happens, I have to prepare myself. After I got the phone call, and found out [知道] that I only had a couple of days left, so apart from [撇除] a few work-related things I planned two things for myself: to see the film The Way We Keep Dancing and to get a tattoo done. I’ve spent more time with family and friends since 6 January. My relationship to my family has become closer. I’ve done everything I can to “cultivate my moral character & put my family in order”. Now I’m talking in cliches! A member of the Mong Kok counterculture and a cliche! At 24!
● 岑子傑 | Jimmy Shum | 25,670 Votes 【1:38】
Jimmy Shum: Hello!
Woman: Hello! How are you, Jimmy?
Jimmy Shum: Aiya!
Woman: You must be very busy, right?
● 卌呀 sei3 aah6 = forty
Jimmy Shum: Once when I came walking by here, she suddenly grabbed hold of me [捉住] [and asked:] “You’re Jimmy Shum, aren’t you?” Last time [after] I was detained [捉咗] for over 40 hours, when I got out the next day, the first thing I did was come and tell you [Shum refers to the woman here] “I’m back. Everything’s OK”. After that, she burst into tears again.
● 形勢 yìhng4 sai3 = situation; circumstances | ● 嚇怕 haak3 paa3 = (?) to frighten; to scare | ● 硬頂 ngaahng6 díng2 = to tough sth. out | ● 同路人 tùhng4 louh6 yàhn4 = a fellow traveller | ● 苦難 fú2 naahn6 = suffering; misery; distress
I’m inclined to think that were I frightened by the current situation, I would feel contempt for myself. To make myself into someone I [could] admire, I just have to tough it out. All the people in the world who are struggling for democracy are our fellow travellers. The suffering that we have been through is actually of no consequence [微不足道]. I am about to lose my freedom, and I have [this weird feeling] in my heart. I don’t want the people nearest to me to have to suddenly confront this.
● 袁嘉蔚 | Tiffany Yuen | 19,844 Votes 【2:38】
呢條片如果就係有嘢嘅話 | 都唔會睇到，呢條片 | 仲有聽日都應該會著呢件褛 | 因爲凍 // 呢件褛，呢件褛呢，冇繩 | 噉冇繩呢，就唔使被人剪【3:00】，剪斷嗰啲咩腰帶呀 [或者啲乜嘢] | 係啦。噉 // 晚晚都，啫，晚晚都會攬住佢瞓 // | 噉就，呃，坐監呢，就冇得攬住佢㗎喇，係啦 | 噉就今晚就攬埋最後一晚 [呢] | 如果真係有啲咩事嘅話 | 咁希望冇事 [啦] | 謝謝 | 啫，對於啲街坊嚟講 | 我可能仲係好細個 [喇] | 跟住最緊要就係佢哋相信我係成熟去處理 | 自身或者成個社區嘅 . . . 嘅問題 [囉] | 要瞓覺你係咪呀，嗯？| 點解咁冧呀，你個樣，嗯？ | 自己照顧自己啦，知唔知呀？
● 褛 lāu1 = coat; jacket | ● 腰帶 yīu1 dáai3*2= belt; waistband | ● 成熟 sìhng4 suhk6 = mature | ● 自身 jih6 sān1 = self; oneself | ● 冧 lām1 = delighted; pleased; sentimental cf. “so cute” in the subtitles
Tiffany Yuen: If something does happen [to me], I won’t be able to watch this video. And then, I should wear this jacket tomorrow, because it will be cold. This jacket has no cords [繩] on it, so no one has to cut anything off it, cut any waistbands or anything like that. Now him, every night I fall asleep holding him in my arms. In prison, I won’t be able to hold him. Tonight is the last night we will hug, if something really does happen. I hope everything will be OK. Thank you! As far as the people of this neighbourhood are concerned, I am still very young. The most important thing is that they trust me to handle their problems or those of the whole area in a mature fashion. (Speaks to cat) Are you wanting to have a sleep, hmm? Why do you look so cute [咁冧]? You’ll have to look after yourself. You know that, don’t you?
● 李芝融 | Lee Chi-yung | 304 Votes【3:57】
Lee Chi-yung: Excuse me, could you tell me, do you have any lace-less shoes?
Shop Assistant: Laceless . . .
李芝融：我一向鍾意啲素色嘅 style 有啲分別 | 而如果係襟著嘅話，咁其實係好過每一兩年換一對鞋嘅 | 其實上一次，呃，過夜個經驗 | 就係，呃，我對鞋有鞋帶嘅話 | 佢要我除咗佢 [嘛] | 對鞋冇鞋帶係好難著嘅 [嘛] | 噉所以就想去買嗰對鞋咁 | 雖然而家個進展 | 有好多人係替我不值嘅 | 咁但係，呃，要發展到咁嘅時候 | 都冇人預計到 | 噉，係啦，我冇牽掛 | 我媽有屋企人睇住 | 我女又唔喺度喇
● 鞋帶 hàaih4 daai3*2 = ? | ● 素色 sou3 sīk1 = roughly, “plain” | ● 襟著 kām1 jeuk3 = roughly, “durable” (of clothing), meaning that you can wear it for a long time before it wears out | ● 牽掛 hīn1 gwaa3 = a worry; a concern
Lee Chi-yung: It’s a bit different from the plain style I usually prefer. As long as they wear well, then it’s better than having to buy a new pair every one or two years. Actually, from the last time when I had the experience of spending the night [in detention], if my shoes had shoelaces in them, they [佢] would have made me remove the laces. It’s hard to walk in shoes without shoelaces. That’s why I wanted to but that [new] pair. Although a lot of people view recent developments as being unfair to me, no one could have foreseen that things would turn out like this. I have no concerns. My relations will keep an eye on my mother, and my daughter is no longer with us.
● 呂智恆 | Hendrick Lui | 9,813 Votes【4:55】
呂智恆：啊，可以寫信俾在囚手足喎，係呀【5:00】 | 聽日，聽日 [會乜嘢呀]？| 你可以話，係正正一班 | 喺前面頂住咗 | 呃，不斷犧牲嘅犧牲 // 流亡嘅流亡 | 所以我哋呢50幾個人嘅清算 // | 稍為慢咗少少 | 噉我都已經係比，呃，比唔少人幸運 [呀] | 啊，噉我起碼可以同一啲我重要嘅人可以 // 道別啦 | 或者一啲我想做嘅心願都可以 . . . 一部分做到啦，係，係呀 | // | 你可以 [啦]，攞咗佢返屋企，呃，寫先嘅 | 因爲，呃，嚟緊 . . . 星期日之後我唔知道我仲有冇機會出返嚟 | 但我哋嘅團隊會繼續努力嘅
● 在囚 joih6 chàuh4 = in prison | ● 手足 sáu2 jūk1 = brothers (perhaps with the sense of “brothers in arms”) | ● 頂住 díng2 jyuh6 = to withstand; to shore up; to keep pushing against; to hang in there | ● 清算 chīng1 syun3 = to settle accounts; to expose & criticize | ● 心願 sām1 yuhn6 = cherished desire; aspiration; wish; dream
Hendrick Lui: Ah, you can write a letter to our brothers and sisters in prison, yes. [Tomorrow? What about tomorrow?] You could say that there is a group of people at the forefront and they are hanging in there. Again and again [不斷], some have made [significant personal] sacrifices, while others have been forced to leave Hong Kong. So, the squaring of [political] accounts with us, [a group of] 50 plus people, was just a bit slower in coming. I am more fortunate than a lot of other people. At least I can say goodbye to the people important to me. Or do the things I really wanted to do, some of them, yes. (Passer-by: “Will you collect the letters every week?”) Yes, you can take it home and write your letter first. Because in the coming days . . . After this Sunday, I don’t know whether I’ll have the chance to come out again. But our team will continue to do all they can.
● 伍健偉 | Lucifer Ng Kin-wai | 20,525 Votes【5:47】
伍健偉：都希望喺最後嘅時間裏邊 | 去同街坊打招呼 [啦，係啦] | Gives instructions to a person on the street：一路行到幼稚園嗰條路 //) 【6:00】 | 啫 ，[譬如] // 上庭、還押 | 都係要剪頭髮嘅 [嘛] | 噉梗係 . . . 剪個好睇少少嘅入去呀，係咪？ | 同埋到時上到庭都靚仔啲吖嘛
伍健偉：會想 . . . 再多一鐘 | 啫，啫，每過多一鐘 [我都想] | 啊，距離聽日又，又 // | // 再多一個鐘，咁樣 | 我呢，以前呢，就年少無知有誇下咗海口嘅 | 就25歲 [啦]，就會娶佢嘅、會結婚嘅 | 噉當然係以前嗰年代呀 | 啫，講緊19年前嗰時代 | 唔係好夠膽喺呢啲 . . . 啫，呢時代 | 去俾一個名份人哋 | 啫，你一諗到自己老公可能啱啱結咗婚 | 就唔知可能 // 10年、20年 | 都要隔住塊玻璃先見到佢嘅 | 除咗講唔好意思 | 啫，都唔知講乜嘢
● 年少無知 nìhn4 síu2 mòu4 jī1 = young and foolish/ignorant | ● 誇下咗海口 kwāa1 haah6 jó2 hói2 háu2 = ? cf. the subtitles have “made a huge promise”| ● 名份 mìhng4 fahn6 = a person’s status
Lucifer Ng Kin-wai: In this last bit of time I have, [I] hope to go and speak with the people of my neighbourhood. (Gives instructions: “Take that road that goes all the way to the kindergarten . . .”) If I have to in court or into detention, your hair gets cut short. So, of course I’ll get my hair cut a bit smarter-looking and go inside, won’t I? And then to boot, when I make my appearance in court, I’ll look handsome, of course.
Reporter: Now [that you are] counting down the free time you have left, what are you feeling?
Lucifer Ng Kin-wai: I tend to want . . . one more hour. Every time another hour goes by, I think: tomorrow’s getting a bit closer. . . I wish I could have another hour. Me, in the past, when I was young and foolish, I made a huge promise, that when I turned 25 I would marry her, we would get married. Of course, back in those days, I’m talking about 2019, I lacked the courage at a time like this to give that kind of status to her [that is, “wife of a criminal”]. When you think that for 10 or 20 years, you might only be able to see the husband you have just married on the other side of a pane of glass. Apart from saying “I’m sorry”, I don’t know what else to say.
● 劉穎匡 | Ventus Lau Wing-hong | 26,707 Votes【7:00】
劉穎匡：因為如果要還押入去嘅話呢 | 咁其實就任何有金屬嘅眼鏡都唔可以戴嘅 | 噉但我自己本身近視度數好深呀 | 如果佢唔俾我戴眼鏡 | 我應該連路都睇唔到 | 對女朋友都唔好意思呀 | 即係 *je 其他人 | 正常一個男人應該 | 而家係廿幾仨歲，應該係諗緊點樣規劃將來呀 | // 睇你自己唔能夠有一個自由嘅身份 | 去見證到香港人再次走上街頭嘅畫面 | 噉呢個係比較遺憾 [喇]
● 度數 douh6 sou3 = number of degrees; reading | ● 規劃 kwāi1 waahk6 = 1. a programme; a plan 2. to map out a plan | ● 見證 gin3 jing3 = to witness
Ventus Lau: Because if [I] am taken into detention, then actually no glasses which have any metal in them can be worn. However, I am very short-sighted, so if they don’t let me wear my glasses, then I most probably [應該] wouldn’t even be able to see where I was going. I feel bad for my girl-friend [都唔好意思]. I mean, other guys, a normal guy, should as he heads for thirty be thinking about how he is going to plan his future. // seeing that I won’t have the status of a free individual, I won’t be there to witness the spectacle of Hongkongers taking to the streets again. This is quite a cause for regret.
● 陳志全 | Chan Chi-chuen | 17,101 Votes【7:30】
陳志全：其實，呃，打波係我哋每個禮拜嘅活動嚟㗎 | 因爲疫情呢，就已經停咗幾個月㗎喇 | // 雖然嘅話，聽日，呃，唔知道會發生咩事 | 但我嘅宗旨都係 | 唔好俾啲恐懼去影響我嘅日常生活 [啦] | 但有一樣嘢我做唔到呢 | 就係我探唔到我媽咪 [啦]| 星期四 // 傾 // | 噉都未發生呢件事 [啦] | 噉所以冇 [啦]，即係 *je冇機會【8:00】去探佢 | 噉呢樣 [嘢] 係少少遺憾啦 | 反而我係擔心我身邊嘅人嘅 | 就算我哋一啲支持者 | 由上次「快必」被收押 | 到到今次可能我都要被收押嘅時候 | 佢哋都會傷心難過 | 甚至會喊呀，咁樣 | 唔好因爲我哋 | 一段時間失去自由而太難過 | 唔使死嘅啫，哈 | 只要我哋個心唔死，哈 | 大家香港人嘅心唔死 | 我哋都仲有機會喇
● 宗旨 jūng1 jí2 = an aim; a purpose | ● 遺憾 wàih4 hahm6 = a regret; a pity | ● 快必 faai3 bīt1 = “Fast Beat”, nickname of Tam Tak-chi cf. 慢必 or “Slow Beat”, Raymond Chan’s nickname; 必 renders the English “beat” here | ● 收押 sāu1 [ng]aat3 = to take into custody; to detain
Raymond Chan Chi-chuen: In fact, playing volleyball is something we do every week. Because of the virus, it’s already been several months since we stopped. Despite the fact that I don’t know what will happen tomorrow, my aim is not to let the terror affect my day-to-day life. But there is one thing I didn’t manage to do — I didn’t get to visit my mum. I spoke with her on Thursday, before this thing happened. And so I didn’t get the chance to see her. [I] feel some regret about that. But I’m more worried about the people near to me. Some of our supporters felt very upset and sad — some even wept — the last time when “Fast Beat” (Taam Tak-chi) was detained, and they might be this time now that I could be taken into custody. [Please] don’t be too sad because we have lost our freedom for a certain time. It’s not as if we are going to die or anything. As long as our hearts don’t die, as long as the hearts of the Hong Kong people do not die, then we still have a chance.
● 余慧明 | Winnie Yu Wai Ming 【8:30】
余慧明：只要你有反對嘅聲音都會一律打壓 | 依個行爲都係想話俾人聽 | 你哋唔好再有任何嘅反抗 | 如果你哋有任何嘅反抗嘅話 | 只會淪得坐監嘅下場 | 呢啲本身係叫做 | 「無名無姓」嘅人呢 | // 我覺得我已經盡咗自己嘅 | 最大嘅勞力去嘗試唔同嘅戰線 【9:00】| 噉都係叫做無怨無悔 [喇]
● 一律 yāt1 leuht6 = all; without exception| ● 反抗 fáan2 kong3 = to revolt; to resist | ● 淪 lèuhn4 = 1. to sink 2. to fall; to be reduced to | ● 無名無姓 mòuh4 mìhng4 mòuh4 sing3 = lit. “no personal name no surname (?) = complete nobody; a person of no consequence| ● 勞力 lòuh4 lihk6 = usu. (n.) labour | ● 戰線 jin3 sin3 = battle line; battlefront; front | ● 無怨無悔 mòuh4 yun3 mòuh4 fui3 = roughly, “no complaints & no regrets”
Winnie Yu: As long as you have voices [expressing] opposition, they will be repressed without exceptions. It’s as if this [legal] action wants to tell people “You must not have any [thoughts of] resisting”. If you do, then all you can do is wind up in jail”. These [people] are what are known as “non-entities”. I feel that I have done my utmost and, with the greatest [possible] effort, gone and tried different battlefronts. This is what you could call having no complaints and no regrets.
David: 呃，啫，平時 // 你搭𨋢呢 | 呃，啫，由，由地下嚟到一層係好想快啲到嘅咁樣 | 但啱啱，啫，上嚟嘅時候 | 係想部𨋢慢啲 | 唔知點解 | 嗰個感覺我唔知係咪 | 我處理唔到就係 | 當你身邊有個人同你行一年之後 | [跟住]，啫，突然間 | 可能就聽日就可能之後可能幾年入便 | 未必可以再 | 再繼續交流 [喇]
● 搭𨋢 daap3 lip1 = to take the lift (elevator)
David: Ah, usually, when you catch the lift up to the first floor, you want it to get there more quickly. When just now when [we] came up, [I] wanted it to go slower. I don’t know why. I don’t know whether that feeling . . . What I can’t handle is [the fact that] someone close to you, someone who has been there with you [同你行] for a year, suddenly, perhaps tomorrow, will not be there for you to go on sharing ideas with [再繼續交流], maybe for several years.
Ivan: 我一直都係好内疚 | 好似推咗你出嚟咁樣囉 | 好心痛 | 同埋好 . . . 好唔想咁樣 [呀] | 啫， 啫，寧願見到自己有啲咩事 | 都唔想見到你有事，其實，真係，係
● 内疚 noih6 gau3 = compunction; a guilty conscience | ● 心痛 sām1 tung3 = to feel sad | ● 寧願 nihng4 yuhn6 = would rather; better
Ivan: I’ve had a guilty conscience about this all along. It’s as if [I] pushed you to the front [推咗你出嚟]. It’s very sad. As well, I really don’t want it to be like this. I would rather it be me who was in trouble [有啲咩事] rather than it be you, actually, really.
余慧明：因爲其實過去一年 | 我哋真係攪工會都用咗好多時間 | 噉就冇乜時間係真係傾到偈 | 了解到大家 | 到到依刻 | 噉其實都唔知仲有冇機會 | 再可以講到底心底入便嘅説話 [喇]，咁可能 | 啫，好彩嘅可能聽日都仲 . . . 之後都仲有機會 | 但係如果唔好彩嘅話 | 可能 . . . | 唔知道隔幾多年先再見 | 而過咗咁多年之後其實 | 大家都唔知會變咗，| 啫，變成點樣 [呢] | 不過學 Ivan 咁講呢 | 我相信大家都應該唔會忘記 | 我哋曾經一齊做到戰友依個時光
● 隔 gaak3 = after or at an interval of
Winnie Yu: Because, actually, over the past year we really have put a lot of time into the union, so we never had much of a chance to have a good talk, to really get to know one another [了解到大家]. And now at this point in time, [I] actually don’t know whether [we] will still have the chance to say everything that we want to say, everything that is in our hearts. If I’m lucky, I will still have the opportunity afterwards, but if things don’t go my way, it may be that . . . I don’t know how many years it will be before [we can] meet again. And then, after so many years, actually, no one knows if it will change, or what it will be like. However, just like Ivan said, I believe that no one of us ought to forget this time when we were all fighters together.
Everyone: Add oil [or: “keep fighting”], add oil.
余慧明：OK OK 買仔勿摸頭 | 大家：又唔係買仔
● 買仔勿摸頭 = lit. “sell son don’t touch head” cf. 店名起源自廣東話俗語「賣仔勿摸頭，摸頭眼淚流。」店主把收集回來的所有舊物視如己出，每次出售都如賣仔一般依依不捨，亦希望找到有緣人好好珍惜這些舊物。
Winnie Yu: OK, OK! Don’t touch his head if you are going to sell your son! | The others: We’re not selling our son!