For the past two years, Hong Kong has been repeatedly in the international spotlight. A decisive clash between civilizations is the main reason for such world interest, the Chinese desperate to make good the wrongs done to it by the British Empire in the nineteenth century, while Western nations strive to preserve a remnant of threatened democracy. But I think something else ― and potentially far more important ― is ultimately at stake.
In February this year, Hong Kong’s Stand News produced a video entitled “If Today is the Last Day of Freedom” [假如這是自由的最後一天], about a number of dangerous “criminals” facing a maximum penalty of life imprisonment. It begins with 24-year-old 鄒家成 Owen Chow, who uses his last free day to see a movie and get a new tattoo ― “If I’m put away, maybe sometimes I won’t be in control of my feelings, . . . Perhaps seeing this [tattoo] will calm me down a bit”. There’s 岑子傑 Jimmy Shum, who rolls his own cigarettes and wears rainbow shoelaces in his boots. There’s 袁嘉蔚 Tiffany Yuen, shown hugging her life-size Buzz Lightyear doll in anticipation of the loss of such comforts should she be taken into custody immediately. And then there’s 呂智恆 Hendrick Lui, one of the few individuals to be granted bail. Ironically, we see him at work on the street, encouraging passers-by to write letters to other Hong Kong democracy activists already behind bars.
These individuals are just a few of the 53 people arrested on 6 January for allegedly “conspiring to commit subversion”, a grave violation of the new National Security Law. Of these, some were released, while 47 were granted bail and told to report to their local police station on 8 April. However, at the end of February, they were contacted to report to police five weeks earlier than originally scheduled. They then appeared in court on the same day and, after a protracted hearing, most of them were denied bail and were taken into custody. At the time of writing, they are still in detention awaiting trial, scheduled now for November.
What was their offence? They had all taken part in peaceful and perfectly legal primary elections in July 2020 in an attempt to identify the strongest candidates for the Legislative Council elections planned for later in the year.
When Hong Kong reverted to the People’s Republic of China in 1997, it was written into the Basic Law of the Territory that gradual progress would be made towards granting Hongkongers the right to elect their own law-makers and even eventually their Chief Executive. However, a counterfeit system was put in place that meant most members of the legislative council were not directly elected, and that made it virtually impossible for pan-democrats to gain a majority anyway. Nevertheless, after the Million-people Protest March of 9 June 2019 and the months of demonstrations that followed, supporters of Hong Kong democracy scored a massive victory in the November 2019 district elections, and at that point a pro-democratic majority in the Legislative Council became practically thinkable. For this reason, not long after, the National Security Law was enacted and democracy was effectively criminalized. The promise of universal suffrage ― so long flouted and frustrated ― was finally openly broken.
The response from supporters of Hong Kong democracy was summed up by the writer 鄧小樺 Tang Siu Wa ― currently Chief Curator of the House of Hong Kong Literature ― who said in a video interview with Vision Times:
I hope that the international community will be able to make the Chinese people ― and make China as a whole ― regain some respect for what it means to make a promise. “One Country, Two Systems” is an international promise. Supposedly, it is a solemn promise. If a promise is being ripped to shreds, this can’t happen without any consequences, there ought to be consequences. Then all of us, [working] together, should make the people who broke their promise face up to the consequences. That’s how it ought to be.
Have you ever wondered what Hong Kong truly is? On my first trip there in 1998, my head was already filled with the usual misconceptions. The glossy Baedeker I bought to guide me on my journey only helped to cement the stereotypes: Victoria Harbour with its sky-scraping corporate architecture, and the shops of Kowloon, crowded ― just as Ainslie Meares once described it ― with groups of “jabbering tourists on their world cruise bent on buying junk”. Nothing could have been further from the truth. My small flat in the village of Cheung Shue Tan was just down the road from the pristine mountain streams and abundant wildlife of the Tai Po Kau nature reserve, and within easily travelling distance of the Ten Thousand Buddhas Temple in Sha Tin, where the gold-coated “diamond body” of its founder, Reverend Yuet-kai, can be seen in its glass case on the altar. Without realizing what was happening, I gradually came under the spell of the “Hong Kong Effect”.
I’ve spent the last ten years trying to clarify this phenomenon as it affects people from English-speaking countries. In a book called Hong Kong: A Moment in Time (1997), there’s a collection of one-line explanations gathered from many sources. For some people, the appeal is primarily energetic, and expressed in formulae such as “Hong Kong is all about living life to the full ― work hard, play hard, make money, spend money, nothing in moderation”. This view is often supported with evidence from fung shui, according to which the flows of ch’i concentrated in the Territory infuse this little corner with energy and vitality to a degree which perhaps nowhere else in China possesses, as Richard Gee puts it.
Other explanations build on this, suggesting the laissez-faire business attitude of the Chinese colony leads to a high degree of social autonomy which is remarkably enabling: “A unique, multi-national pin prick on the map which gives everybody a chance in life”. In some cases, Hong Kong even manages to transform people entirely, leading them to an identity they could have never have imagined for themselves back home. Take Gregory Rivers from Gympie in Queensland, who fell in love with Cantonese pop music while studying at the University of New South Wales. Eventually, he abandoned his medical degree and came to Hong Kong on a one-way ticket in 1987. He remains there to this day, having reinvented himself as 河國榮 Ho Kwok-wing, actor, singer and fluent Cantonese-speaker.
However, I think the most promising answer to the riddle is the following cryptic statement: “Hong Kong is a privilege of the twentieth century”. Privilege? Light is shed on this by 莫華德 Barbara Ward, another individual miraculously transmuted by Hong Kong. In Chinese Festivals, a book she worked on with the photographer 羅美娜Joan Law Mee Nar, she points out that contemporary, industrialised Hong Kong is also a centre of flourishing Chinese traditionalism, where the spectacular festival activities forbidden in mainland China ― including celebrations of the birthdays of the Sea Goddess Tin Hau and the Buddhist goddess of Mercy, Goon Yam ― unexpectedly live on. It may be that the profound stability of the Chinese ritual cycle facilitates Hong Kong’s high-degree of creativity, innovation and resilience, providing an optimal channel for social, environmental and technological change to happen without excessive turmoil or dislocation.
But there’s more to it than this conjunction of authentic tradition and sophisticated modernity. Another facet of Hong Kong’s privilege is that it has managed to fuse ― over more than 150 years of continuous effort ― two great but vastly different cultures. An enormous price has been paid for this in terms of human suffering, social injustice, and great divisions of wealth, opportunity and wellbeing, but the resulting hybrid is a priceless treasure, something both Eastern and Western, and at the same time neither Chinese nor Anglo-European ― an entity unique in the history of the world. To me, it is an attempt to imagine what the future could look like, beyond the self-enclosed, nation-obsessed, toxically “patriotic” states that most of us find ourselves caught up in today.
As Jan Morris reminded us in her 1998 book Hong Kong/Xiangang, China’s loss of territory to England as a result of the Opium Wars was utterly devastating. The then emperor Dao Guang, she writes, “was seen by courtiers, incredulously wandering his palace in the night, murmuring ‘impossible, impossible’, and repeatedly sighing”. Dao Guang’s lament continues to resonate loudly in the Chinese psyche, and is perfectly audible now in the People’s Republic of China. Yet, reasonable as they might seem, such claims to lost territory are questionable. The Hong Kong journalist 陳寳珣 Chan Bou-seun puts them into perspective in his novel Love Song for a Sinking Island [沒島戀曲] (2015):
Some said that Ah Cho had left Hong Kong and gone to Europe somewhere, and that he had changed his field of research to the sovereignty of nations and the constitution. He was writing a thesis on the subject of the creation and break-up of ancient Rome, with the purpose of looking into the legal principles behind why Italy did not announce that much of Europe and the Middle East was its own innate territory on the basis of the fact that these places had once been part of the Roman Empire. Over the course of history, in Europe, the Middle East and in Turkey, a succession of empires had emerged straddling a number of regions, and they had all ruled for many centuries. Why didn’t they go on carrying the historical burden of a unified nation and insist on revitalizing the territory of a Greece, a Rome, or an Ottoman Empire, instead of choosing the way of break-up and self-rule?
Here Chan suggests that the move towards “revitalization” is both imperialistic and anachronistic, for history has already shown that the time for empires is over. What 鄒家成 Owen Chow had tattooed on his right inner forearm on his last free day was the mantra Om mani padme hum in Tibetan script, a prayer for enlightenment and the cultivation of a new way of being. Rather than yearn for the past, let us continue to pray forwards for Hong Kong, neither “country” nor “system”, just an inspiring social possibility for the future that perhaps only comes to us once in a million years.
This is neither pleasant nor easy watching, but if you are concerned about what is going on in Hong Kong then this Stand News video on the 2019 21 July Yuen Long Mob Attacks is essential viewing.
The “revised” view of the incident as a clash between protestors and pro-government forces is precisely what the video wants to challenge. This challenge involves four aspects, two of which are covered in this first part (the first 7 minutes). Firstly, there is the testimony of Mr So, who was attacked by a stick-wielding mob on his way home from work. Given the fact that he was unarmed and alone calls into question the idea that the attacks were an act of self-defence on the part of locals. Nothing about Mr So suggests that he was part of pro-Hong Kong plot to overrun Yuen Long in order to liberate [光復] it.
The second aspect is the influence of the pro-Beijing group “Safeguard Hong Kong” [守護香港]. One of the “men in white” [白衣人] was seen wearing a marshall’s token [糾察牌] on which the name of the organization was written. Also of possible relevance are the comments of 石鏡泉 Arthur Shek Kang Chuen who, at a large rally organized by Safeguard Hong Kong at Tamar Park on 20 July, urged members of the audience to find a cane rod or a length of water piping “to teach the kids a lesson” [教仔]. Also relevant here is the woman 李璧而 Sandy Li Pik Yee, the convenor of a pro-Beijing group called [珍惜群組], who led a small demonstration in Yuen Long on the night of the attacks and who, by her own admission, had worked as a marshall at Safeguard Hong Kong events. Recently, Sandy Lee also filed a complaint against Eddie Yip, the judge who sentenced seven of the men in white so far charged over the Attacks.
The third very important aspect concerns a poster allegedly circulated by protestors carrying the inflammatory wording “Capture Yuen Long and You’ll Gain the Whole Empire” [得元朗得天下]. In the second part of this video, we will see that evidence uncovered by Stand News shows that, although the origins of this poster are impossible to determine, its earliest traceable appearance was on a Weibo page called “Dust in the Wind” [風中微塵] run by a woman married to a Hong Kong policeman and known for her active support of the police force. The final aspect involves the role of certain organizations in the New Territories, especially the various Rural Committees [鄉委會] and also a “New Territories Working Group” attached to the Liaison Office of the Central People’s Government 中聯辦新界工作部部長, headed by a man called 李薊貽 Li Jiyi.
I hope to post the remaining two parts in the coming weeks.
Please scroll down for my transcription (unfortunately, the remarks of both Mr So and Sandy Lee are a bit unclear, so I have transcribed the Chinese subtitles as well), English translation and notes. You can view the video here (subtitles in English and Standard Written Chinese only). 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.
旁白：7.21 [七二一] 元朗襲擊事件兩周年 | 過去嘅連儂牆已經空白一片 | 只係剩低每個月嘅21號 | 有大批警員駐守
蘇先生：（字幕）香港人沒有忘記7.21事件| 只係形式上不同了，不在牆上，在心中（粵語）香港人呢，都係冇忘記7.21呢件事 [呢] | 只係 [形式]可能 // 形式上唔同咗 [啦]， 唔喺幅牆度，// 心入便咁樣囉
蘇先生：我最想知嘅唔係邊個打我 [嘛] | 我最想知嘅係點解會打 | 後邊 [邊]個 策劃成件事係點樣發生嘅
李璧而：（字幕）他們（示威者）吹得好犀利 | 說「得元朗得天下」| 整件事是爲了守護元朗 | 守護自己的家園而被迫還手 | 這就是真相（粵語） 佢哋吹得好緊要 | 話「得元朗得天下」| 成件事呢，[都係為咗] 守護元朗[咋嘛] |守護自己嘅家園被迫還手 | 呢個就係真相
● 連儂牆 lìhn4 nùhng4 chèuhng4 = Lennon Wall | ● 空白一片 hūng1 baahk6 yāt1 pin3 = roughly, “completely blank” | ● 駐守 jyu3 sáu2 = to garrison; to defend | ● 策劃 chaak3 waahk6 = to plan; to plot; to scheme; to engineer | ● 家園 gāa1 yùhn4 = home; homeland | ● 還手 wàahn4 sáu2 = to strike back; to hit back; to retaliate
Voice-over: It is the second anniversary of the 21 July Yuen Long Mob Attacks. The Lennon Wall that was once here is now completely blank and the only reminder of the incident [只係剩低] is the large police presence [大批警員駐守] here on the 21st of every month.
Mr So: The people of Hong Kong haven’t forgotten the 21 July Yuen Long Attacks. It’s just that [we] remember it in a different form — not on a wall but in [our] hearts and minds.
Attacker: (Subtitles) If you disobey, we will hit you.
Mr So: What I really want to know is not who hit me. What I really want to know is why they did it, who the people were behind it were, and how it happened.
Sandy Lee Pik-yee: They (the anti-extradition protestors) were talking up things [吹] in the most exaggerated fashion, saying that if they captured Yuen Long they would then have taken all of China [得元朗得天下]. The whole incident was merely a matter of protecting Yuen Long. We were forced to protect our homeland. That is the truth of it.
【1:00】遭襲擊嘅市民: （字幕）不要打呀 | 只是放工回家呀 | 把眼鏡還給他
旁白：7.21 兩周年 | 事件由最初公認嘅白衣人襲擊市民 | 變成建制所講有「暴徒」| 帶人入元朗掀起雙方衝突 | 究竟7.21係點樣發生㗎呢？| 白衣人背後有冇組織呢？| 「得元朗得天下」厘個消息 | 又係點嚟呢？| 立場新聞翻查當日嘅閉路電視同網絡片段 | 分析互聯網歷史數據，追尋新線索
Caption: 7.21尋源 Seeking the Sources of 21 July
旁白：做厨師嘅蘇先生 . . .
● 建制 gin3 jai3 = (a) pro-establishment or pro-Beijing (organization) | ● 掀起 hīn1 héi2 = to set off (a movement, etc.); to start | ● 翻查 fāan1 chàah4 = roughly, “to look through” | ● 追尋 jēui1 chàhm4 = to pursue; to search; to track down
People being attacked: (Subtitles) Don’t hit [us]. We’ve finished work and we’re just going back home. Give him back his glasses.
Voice-over: On the second anniversary of the 21 July Yuen Long Attacks, the incident has gone from being an attack on civilians by the men in white to what pro-Beijing groups [call] the taking of thugs into Yuen Long to provoke conflicts between the two parties [that is, pro-Beijing parties and pro-Hong Kong parties]. Why in the final analysis did 21 July happen? Was there a particular organization behind the men in white? And where did the news [concerning] the “capture of Yuen Long” come from? The Stand News [team] has looked through footage from closed-circuit TV and the internet from that day, and analyzed historical data from the internet in pursuit of fresh clues.
Mr So, who works as a chef . . .
【2:00】. . . 2019年7月21日，夜晚9點幾收工嘅時候 | 喺元朗鳳攸北街 | 被一班白衣人用藤條襲擊 | 一年後，警方先至安排認人手續 | 蘇先生兩次都認唔到
Caption: 蘇先生 | 7.21襲擊事件傷者 | Mr So | A Victim of the 21 July [Yuen Long] Mob Attacks
蘇先生： （字幕） 爲何事隔一年後才找我認人？| 一年了，甚麽記憶也衝淡了 | 怎會認到人？| 我自己嘗試過找線索找資料 | 方向是7.21（襲擊）前有一個小遊行 | 圍繞元朗行一圈 | 主題和之後的7.21襲擊都好相似 | 都是穿白色衫、手持藤條之類 （粵語）點解要隔咗一年先揾我認人呢？| 一年 [喇] 喎，我咩記憶都衝淡咗啦 | 唔會認得人 [吖] | 我自己我都 試過去揾一啲線索囉，揾一啲資料囉 | [主要] 方向就係因爲當時7.21之前係有一個叫做遊行仔咁樣 [啦]，係呀 | 噉啊圍繞元朗繞 [轉一週] // | 其實個主題同 // 之後7.21襲擊都好相似 | 都係白色衫呀、可能攞啲，啫，藤條咁嘅嘢囉
● 藤條 tàhng4 tíu4*2= (a length of) cane | ● 認人手續 yihng6 yàhn4 sáu2 juhk6 = (?) an identity/identification parade | ● 衝淡 chūng1 daahm6/táahm5 = ① to dilute ② to water down; to weaken; to play down | ● 線索 sin3 sok3 = a clue; a thread | ● 圍繞 wàih4 yíu2 = round; around
. . . was attacked by a group of men in white wielding cane rods [藤條] some time after 9 p.m. on 21 July 2021 after work in Fung Yau Street North. A whole year went by before the police organized [two] identity parades, but on both occasions Mr So didn’t recognize any [of the participants].
Mr So: Why did a whole year go by [隔咗一年] before I was contacted about identifying suspects [認人]? A whole year! Any memories I had had begun to fade; it was unlikely that I’d recognize anyone. Off my own bat [我自己] I once tried to search for a few clues, a bit of material [UNCLEAR] the direction [of the search being] a mini-demonstration [遊行仔] that did a circuit of Yuen Long before [the] 21 July [Yuen Long Attacks]. The theme (?) of the demonstration was similar to that of the later 21 July Attacks. There were people wearing white and maybe some of them were carrying things like cane rods.
【3:00】根據鳳攸北街商戶提供嘅閉路電視片段 | 7.21當日下晝6點幾開始 | 有白衣人聚集同派口罩 | 直至8點幾，更開始有大批白衣人聚集 | 其中一支閉路電視影到 | 三分鐘内有大約二百名白衣人行過 | 差唔多8點嗰陣，仲有一個小型遊行 | 佢哋二、三十人攞住「保衛元朗 | 保衛家園」嘅標語同區旗遊行
蘇先生：發現咗另一個建制派人士呢 | 叫李璧而 [啦]，係一個叫做「珍惜群組」嘅召集人 [啦]
旁白：蘇先生話，自己喺連登討論區 | 出貼討論呢個線索，點知有網民留言 | 話有條片聽到李璧而嗌咪
Gladys Hou 香港突發事故報料區
Gladys Hou Zone for the Reporting [報料] of Unexpected Incidents in Hong Kong (Screenshot from the LIHKG website)
I’m terribly worried!!! Could I please trouble you all to pass on this news: in Kai Tei in Yuen Long, there are large numbers of triad members wearing white, near the Western Rail Station, waiting to ambush protestors returning from demonstrations. They really could beat people up! This news is 100% definite. I ask you to spread [the news] widely, and tell fellow protestors [手足] to be careful and steer well clear of the area.
● 標語 bīu1 yúh5 = slogan; poster + here perhaps “a placard; a sign” (usu. 標語牌) | ● 連登討論區 Lihn4 Dāng1 tóu2 lèuhn4 kēui1 = LIHKG discussion area; meeting area | ● 嗌咪 = cf. 嗌 aai3 = to shout; to yell + 咪 māi1 = microphone (cf. 咪高峰 māi1 gōu1 fūng1)
Notes: LIHKG is a multi-category forum website based in Hong Kong. The website has gained popularity since its launch in 2016, and is often referred to as the Hong Kong version of Reddit (Wikipedia). 雞地gāi1 deih6 or Kai Tei (meaning “chicken land”) in English is located is a place in the south-east part of Yuen Long. The name derives from the fact that there was once a poultry market there that sold chickens and ducks.
Voice-over: On the basis of [根據] CCTV footage provided by traders in Fung Yau Street North, on the day of the 21 July [Yuen Long Attacks], from around 6 p.m., men dressed in white began to assemble and hand out face masks. This went on till around 8 p.m., when large numbers of men dressed in white joined those already assembled. One of the CCTV cameras recorded [影到] the approach of around 200 men dressed in white in the space of 3 minutes [三分鐘内]. At around 8 p.m., there was also a small-scale demonstration, of around 20 to 30 people. They held up placards on which was written “Defend Yuen Long, Defend Our Homeland” and Hong Kong flags as they marched.
Mr So: I came across another pro-Beijing figure by the name of Sandy Li Pik Yee. She’s the convenor of something called the Cherish Group [珍惜群組].
Voice-over: Mr So said that he posted something about this clue on a discussion forum on LIHKG. To his surprise, a netizen said that there was a video of Sandy Lee shouting [slogans] into a microphone.
旁白：而畫面見到呢一個男人 | 身上帶住「守護香港」嘅糾察牌 | 閉路電視亦見到呢個男人 | 曾經同一大班白衣人一齊出入
蘇先生：（字幕）這個人跟另一張相片中在九樓内 | 手持藤條影相的男子非常相似 | 「守護香港」糾察牌 | 我一看便記得之前一個「守護香港」集會 | 一班親政府人士在添馬公園舉辦集會 | 這些容易令人聯想，像所有東西都有關連（粵語）呢個人我原來同另一張相喺個酒樓度 | 唔知攞住藤條影相嗰個係好似 | 「守護香港」個糾察牌 | 啫，我睇 . . . 記得就喺早排一個叫做「守護香港」嘅集會 [嘛] | 係一班，啫，親政府人士啦，舉行嘅集會，喺添馬公園 | 啫 // 呢啲 [咪] // 容易令人聯想到呢，[或者] 原來，啫，好似所有嘢都有關係嘅
旁白：喺7月20號守護香港大聯盟 | 攪嘅撐警集會上，石鏡泉咁講：| 屋企有藤條呀？（有 ！）. . .
● 糾察 gáu2 chaat3 = to maintain order at a public gathering | ● 早排 jóu2 pàaih4/páai4*2 = a while ago; a few days ago | ● 親政府人士 chān1 jing3 fú2 yàhn4 sih6 = pro-government people cf. 親 = in favour of; pro- | ● 聯想 lyùhn4 séung2 = to associate; to connect in the mind
Sandy Li Pik Yee: (Subtitles) Yuen Long’s Army of Defence, [its] Volunteer Army
Voice-over: In one moment in the footage [畫面], a man is visible wearing [身上帶住] a Safeguard Hong Kong marshall’s tag [糾察牌]. In the CCTV footage, this man was also seen coming and going with a large group of men in white.
Mr So: This man resembles a man in another photograph [taken in a] restaurant. I’m not sure [唔知] if he is the same man, the one holding a cane rod. [As for] the Safeguard Hong Kong marshall’s tag, I think [我睇] I remember a while ago there being a rally for Safeguard Hong Kong, a bunch of people who are in favour of the government, and they held this gathering in Tamar Park. These [UNCLEAR] can easily be linked up in one’s mind — it seems as if all these things are somehow connected.
Voice-over: Safeguard Hong Kong held a rally in support of police on 20 July. At this rally, Arthur Shek Kang Chuen made the following comments: “Do you have a cane rod at home? (Crowd: Yes!)
【5:00】（字幕）屋企有藤條呀？（有）| 找藤條出來！找長一點來打仔！| 屋企沒有藤條如何呀？| 我們去五金鋪，買直徑 20 毫米的水喉通 | 我們要來做什麽？教仔（粵語）石鏡泉：. . . 攞 [條] 出嚟！揾長 // 打仔！ | 屋企冇藤條點呀？| 我哋都去 // 間五金鋪，買條 20mm 嘅水喉通 | 我哋要 // ？[啫]，教仔
旁白：石鏡泉之後撤回言論同致歉 | 表示不贊成任何暴力 | 並且事前對7.21 襲擊毫不知情 | 守護香港大聯盟回覆我哋話 | 喺7.21冇舉行任何活動 | 又話，「守護香港」字樣喺2019年嘅時候 | 「黑暴分子」都有使用 | 叫我哋問「黑暴分子」點解要策動當晚嘅暴亂
李璧而：（字幕）這牌我也有 | 在添馬公園做保安，是大型活動 （粵語）呢個牌我都有 [啦] | 呢 // 保安，// 喺添馬公園做個大型嘅活動吖嘛 | 噉呢，就係，呃 . . .
● 五金鋪 ngh5 gām1 póu3*2 = hardware store | ● 水喉通 séui2 hàuh4 tūng1 = usu. a length of metal water piping | ● 撤回 chit3 wùih4 = to retract | ● 致歉 ji3 hip3 = to apologize; to express regret | ● 毫不知情 hòuh4 bāt1 jī1 chìhng4 = completely unaware of (the facts of a case or the details of an incident) | ● 字樣 jih6 yéung6*2 = printed or written words | ● 策動 chaak3 duhng6 = to instigate; to engineer; to stir up | ● 暴亂bouh6 lyuhn6 = a riot; a rebellion; a revolt
Arthur Shek: Take out [your] cane rods, a nice long one, and beat the brats! Don’t happen to have a cane rod lying around at home? Then we’ll head off down to the hardware store and buy a length of 20mm water piping [水喉通]. What for? We want to teach those brats a lesson.
Voice-over: Arthur Shek later retracted his remarks and issued an apology, expressing [the view] that he did not condone violence of any kind, and saying that he had no prior knowledge of the 21 July Attacks. Safeguard Hong Kong responded to our questions, saying that they did not organize any activities on the day of the attacks, adding that the words “safeguard Hong Kong” were also used by “black violent elements” [黑暴分子] in 2019. They told us to go and ask those “black violent elements” why they instigated that evening’s riot [暴亂].
Sandy Li Pik Yee: I’ve got one of those tags. I worked as a marshall at the big event held at Tamar Park which was organized by . . .
【6:00】. . . （字幕）是何律師（何君堯）舉辦的 | （記者：是守護香港大聯盟舉辦的）| 是守護香港大聯盟 . . . 記錯了 | 這牌 . . . 我也有份做糾察 （粵語）何律師攪嘅嘛，噉 [因為] . . . |（記者：// 香港大聯盟攪嘅） | 啊，啊，守護香港大聯盟，係，[記錯咗， 記錯] | （係，係）| 咁樣呢，就，呃，呢個牌，我都有一份糾察 [喇]
旁白：我哋訪問到7.21白衣人襲擊前 | 喺遊行帶頭嘅李璧而 | 佢話，當日遊行係元朗一班街坊自發攪 | 同守護香港大聯盟 | 或者其他建制組織都冇關係
李璧而：（字母）這些糾察牌與當日無關，沒必要掛上 | 我不知道爲何他會掛上，我不知道 | 大家是鄰里，不能排除他 | 一起來幫忙控制秩序，不奇怪 | 7.21那晚我們一班人約在這裏 | 在這裏張貼橫額，物資放這裏 | 我看見他們預備了藤條（粵語）呢牌唔關 [嗰件事，我想話] （記者：哦）亦都冇必要掛喺度 | 噉我唔知點解佢會掛喺度呢，我唔知 [喇] // | 大家鄰里呢，當日嚟講唔係 // 佢就 | // 幫手控制個秩序，都唔奇嘅 | 7.21嗰晚呢，// 我哋呢，都成班呢，就約咗喺呢一度 | 嗱，我哋呢，就貼橫額，喺度貼。嗱，啲物資呢，就擺 [到] 呢度嘅 | 噉 // 佢哋 // 見到佢哋呢，就係，呃，呃，預備咗啲藤條，我見到 . . .
● 自發 jih6 faa3 = spontaneous | ● 橫額 wàahng4 ngáak6*2 = horizontal hanging placard; banner; streamer | ● 鄰里 lèuhn4 léih5 = neighbour | ● 物資 maht6 jī1 = (?) goods
Sandy Li Pik Yee : . . . [Junius] Ho [Kwan-yiu], the lawyer organized. (Reporter: That event was organized by Safeguard Hong Kong.) Oh yes, Safeguard Hong Kong. My memory is playing tricks on me. Now as for this tag . . . I’ve also worked as a marshall.
Voice-over: We spoke with Sandy Li who marched at the head of the protest before the 21 July Attacks by the men in white. She said that the march held on that day was a spontaneous event organized by a residents’ group in Yuen Long and that it had no connection whatsoever with Safeguard Hong Kong or any other pro-Beijing organization.
Sandy Li Pik Yee : This tag has nothing to do with the march. There was no need to wear it here. I don’t know why he was wearing it. We are all local people. Perhaps he was helping out with the crowd control [控制秩序] — there’s nothing odd about that. On the night of 21 July, the whole lot of us gathered here, put up banners. We put them up here. Various other bits and pieces [物資] were put here. As for those [men], I saw them coming prepared with cane rods, and when I saw them . . .
【7:00】（字幕） . . . 我問，為甚麽會預備藤條？| （他們指）示威者有槌子之類的武器 | 他們被迫守衛家園 | 你們卻說他們是黑社會 | （示威者）不入元朗有怎會有此事？| 今次希望大家要明白 | 其實看看網上之前的資料 | 「得元朗得天下」. . . 嘩，真的嚇死人（粵語）我 // 點解你預備藤條嘅 | // 對方呢，話，呃，呃，嗰啲，嗰啲武器有鎚仔、有 // 吖嘛 | 佢哋被迫守衛家園 | 而你哋話佢哋，呃，咩？，呃，黑社會 | 你唔入嚟 [點] 會有咁嘅事呀？ 係咪先？| 所以呢，今次我 [哋]希望大家要明白到呢 | 呃，其實睇翻網上呢，以前嘅網上嘅資料 | 「得元朗得天下」，嘩，真係呀嚇死人呀，真係
旁白：李璧而話，7.21前夕 | 網上流傳「得元朗得天下」嘅圖 | 佢哋知道有人要入元朗「光復」| 所以先至集合出嚟守衛元朗
李璧而：（字幕）之前（有圖）刻意放大這些字 | 令到我們都很擔心 | 因爲這張海報，他們這樣鼓吹 | 整條街都站滿白衣人 （粵語）[佢] 之前呢，[就] 刻意呢，就放大呢啲字呀 | 噉呢 // [講真呢]，我都好擔心呀 | 因爲 [嗰] poster 啦，同埋佢哋咁樣吹法啦 | 呢度成條街全部白雪雪
● 預備 yuh6 beih6 = to prepare; to get ready | ● 鎚仔 chèuih4 jái2 = roughly, a little hammer | ● 係咪先 haih6 maih6 sin1 = don’t you agree with me? | ● 前夕 chìhn4 jihk6 = eve | ● 流傳 làuh4 chyùhn4 = to spread; to circulate | ● 光復 gwōng1 fuhk6 = to recover; to liberate (lost territory)
Sandy Li Pik Yee: I asked them, why have you come prepared with cane rods? They replied [that the protestors had] weapons [such as domestic hammers [UNCLEAR]. They were forced to protect their homeplace. You people, on the other hand, say they are — what was it, again? — triad gangsters. How could anything [like that] had happened if you hadn’t come [to Yuen Long], right? And so for this reason, this time I hope everyone will be clear about this. Actually, if [you] go back and look at the internet, at material on the web from before, [you’ll see an image saying] “Capture Yuen Long and You’ll Gain the Whole Empire”. This really gave [us] a terrible scare, really.
Voice-over: Sandy Li said that on the eve of 21 July, an image circulated over the net [bearing the words] “Capture Yuen Long and You’ll Gain the Whole Empire”. It was only after they learned that people wanted to come to Yuen Long to “liberate” it that they banded together to safeguard Yuen Long.
Sandy Li Pik Yee: Before, they deliberately enlarged these words. To tell you the truth I was really worried. Because of that poster, and the way they were talking things up [吹法], the streets here were just a whole mass of white [成條街全部白雪雪].
To be continued . . .
● 奮力 fáhn5 lihk6 = do all one can; spare no effort | ● 抵抗 dái2 kong3 = to resist; to stand up to | ● 社會民主連線 (or 社民連) Séh5 Wúi6*2 Màhn4 Jyú2 Lìhn4 Sin3 = The League of Social Democrats | ● 回應 wùih4 ying3 = to respond | ● 決議文 kyut3 yíh5 màhn4 = resolution | ● 提名權 tàih4 mìhng4 kyùhn4 = roughly, “the right to nominate (oneself as an election candidate)” | ● 剝奪 mōk1 dyuht6 = to deprive; to expropriate; to strip | ● 變相 bin3 seung3 = in a disguised form; covert | ● 廢除 fai3 chèuih4 = to abolish; to annul; to repeal | ● 公平公正 gūng1 pìhng4 gūng1 jing3 = roughly “fair & impartial” | ● 壓制 [ng]aat3 jai3 = to suppress; to stifle; to inhibit | ● 憑良心 pàhng4 lèuhng4 sām1 = roughly, “relying on the goodness of one’s heart” or perhaps “in good faith” | ● 彰顯 jēung1 hín2 = to bring out conspicuously; to manifest; to make evident
Do All You Can to Resist | Up Until [the Day of] Victory
— Resolution of the League of Social Democrats in Response to Changes
in the Hong Kong Political Situation in 2021 —
Under the present circumstances, in which the right of citizens to nominate themselves as candidates in elections has been seriously stripped away and, to all extents and purposes, abolished, and in which Hong Kong has lost a fair and just electoral system, the League of Social Democrats will not take part in the 2021 elections either for the Election Committee or for the Legislative Council. Moreover, given that the right to vote has not been completely suppressed, the League of Social Democrats would like to call on members of the general public to actively express their views in good faith by means of these various elections and to do all they can to make the true will of the people clearly manifest.
The League of Social Democrats
Every language has its rare species, words and phrases that only crop up once in a blue moon. The last time I heard the idiom 捐窿捐罅 gyūn1 lūng1 gyūn1 laa3 was in a TVB news report in 2019. There, it was described a small robot-like device that could operate “in any nook or cranny” [噉，好處係佢可以捐窿捐罅]. But here in this recent report from HK01, it has finally come back to me again, but the context is quite different: speaking out for democracy in Hong Kong.
According to 《香港粵語大詞典》, 捐窿捐罅 means “to go into each and every corner” [走遍每一個角落] while Sheik Cantonese has “[to sneak in and out of a hole] to search high and low for a place”. When Figo Chan calls on people to 捐窿捐罅去發聲, we can guess that he wants them to make their voices heard in whatever gaps or cracks they can find . . . This certainly adds to our understanding of the nuances of the expression. Of interest too is the fact that the video subtitles write it as 瓹窿瓹罅, using the rare character 瓹 gyūn1 which means “a hole in a basin to let the water out” [盆底之去水孔].
Although this report lasts for just over a minute, it contains a number of other very interesting things, including 較早前 = (?) “a while back; some time ago” and the two 4-character phrases 秋後算賬 = “to square accounts after the Autumn harvest” and 義無反顧 = honour permits no turning back.
You can view the video here. 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.
多名泛民人士 | 被指喺前年10月1日 | 組織及參與未經批准集結 | 案件禮拜一喺區域法院開審
案中10名被告個承認一項 | 組織未經批准集結罪 | 佢哋較早前抵達法庭嘅時候 | 已經預告會認罪
陳浩桓：希望呢，大家呢，嚟緊無論係6月4 | 定係7月1 | 定係其他日子 | 都可以捐窿捐罅去發聲 | 可以捍衛我哋嘅自由、民主同埋公義
何俊仁：今日，政府秋後算賬 | 要將我哋係禁於牢獄 | 然後，使到市民要滅聲 | 但係，我同大家講 | 我哋唔會後悔 | 我哋絕對義無反顧
記者：曾藹豪 | 攝影：洪業銘 | 剪接：袁柏謙
● 泛民 faan3 màhn4 = pan-democratic | ● 開審 hōi1 sám2 = to hold a court hearing | ● 較早前 gaau3 jóu2 chìhn4 = ? cf. 較早時 = a while back; some time ago | ● 預告 yuh6 gou3 = to announce in advance | ● 認罪 yihng6 jeuih6 = to admit guilt | ● 嚟緊 làih4 gán2 = (forth)coming | ● 發聲 faat3 sēng1 = usu. “to make a sound”; here perhaps “to make a noise or “to make one’s voice heard” | ● 捍衛 hóhn5 waih6 = to defend; to guard; to protect | ● 公義 gūng1 yih6 = justice | ● 秋後算賬 chāu1 hauh6 syun3 jeung3 = to square accounts after the Autumn harvest, that is, wait until after a political movement is over to settle accounts with the leadership or the masses; bide one’s time to take revenge; wait until sth. is over to settle accounts with | ● 禁於牢獄 gam3 yū1 lòuh4 yuhk6 = (?) to be put in prison | ● 滅聲 miht6 sēng1 = (?) to extinguish all dissent cf. 滅 = to destroy; to extinguish | ● 義無反顧 yih6 mòuh4 fáan2 gu3 = honour permits no turning back; be duty-bound not to turn back | ● 初心 chō1 sām1 = beginner’s mind; original intention; first desire | ● 長存 chèuhng4 chyùhn4 = to live forever
A number of pan-democrats figures [泛民人士] were accused of organizing and taking part in an unauthorised assembly the year before last on 1 October. The case was heard at the District Court on Monday.
The ten people accused admitted to the charge [承認] of organizing an unauthorised assembly. Earlier, when they arrived at the court, they had already indicated that they would plead guilty.
Figo Chan: Regardless of whether it is 4 June or 1 July or any other forthcoming date, [we] hope that all of you can make a noise in any nook of cranny you are able to get into [捐窿捐罅] and that you can defend our freedom, our democracy, and our justice.
Albert Ho: Today, the government is engaged in settling political scores and will lock us up in prison. After that, dissent from ordinary people will be extinguished [滅聲]. However, I say to you all that we have no regrets and that in our case, absolutely, honour permits no turning back.
Richard Tsoi: Our original intention has not altered. Our faith will live forever.
“Hongkongers are a unique community with their own distinctive culture, history, experiences and values. We shall maintain our unique identity and continue to create its timely significance to perpetuate these precious characteristics; our identity, history and cultural values shall be respected and safeguarded, in writing and in recording, to be preserved in multiple ways to counter the biased perspectives fabricated and propagated by the authorities” — these are the opening sentences of the next part of the Charter, simply entitled 香港篇 Hēung1 Góng2 Pīn1 or “Hong Kong Section”.
I will tackle the remaining two parts of the Charter (dealing with mainland China and the international community) in another post, but you can view the entire bilingual document here, together with some information on the initiators. For other help with the Chinese, please consult the Sheik Cantonese on-line dictionary.
● 共同體 guhng6 tùhng4 tái2 = community | ● 身份認同 sān1 fán6*2 yihng6 tùhng4 = (?) identity cf. 身份 = status; identity + 認同 = to identify | ● 傳承 chyùhn4 sìhng4 = to impart & to inherit | ● 抗擊 kong3 gīk1 = to resist; to beat back | ● 諱言捏造wáih5 yìhn4 nihp6 jouh6 = ? cf. 諱言 = dare not or would not speak up + 捏造 = to fabricate; to concoct; to trump up | ● 事務 sih6 mouh6 = affairs | ● 世界人權宣言 sai3 gaai3 yàhn4 kyùhn4 syūn1 yìhn4 = the Universal Declaration of Human Rights | ● 公民權利及政治權利公約 gūng1 màhn4 kyùhn4 leih6 kahp6 jing3 jih6 kyùhn4 leih6 gūng1 yeuk3 = the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights | ● 三權分立 sāam1 kyùhn4 fān1 lahp6 = separation of powers (i.e. the legislative, executive and judicial powers) | ● 統屬 tung2 suhk6 = ① subordination ② to be subordinate | ● 公權力 gūng1 kyùhn4 leih6 = (?) public rights | ● 彰顯公義 jēung1 hín2 gūng1 yih6 = cf. 彰顯 = to bring out conspicuously + 公義 = justice | ● 解釋權 gáai2 sihk6 kyùhn4 = right to interpret | ● 理應 léih5 yīng1 = ought to; should | ● 以言入罪 yíh5 yìhn4 yahp6 jeuih6 = roughly, “to regard speaking out as a criminal offence” | ● 結社 git3 séh5 = to form an association | ● 撤銷 chit3 sīu1 = to cancel; to rescind; to revoke | ● 檢控 gím2 hung3 = to prosecute | ● 臣服於 sàhn4 fuhk6 yū1 = to submit oneself to the rule of; to acknowledge allegiance to | ● 捍衛 hóhn5 waih6 = to defend; to guard; to protect | ● 底線 dái2 sin3 = the base line; the bottom line | ● 同流合污 tùhng4 làuh4 hahp6 wū1 = wallow in the mire with sb.; to associate with an evil person | ● 上意 seuhng6 yi3 = (?) the wishes/will of those higher up | ● 授權 sauh6 kyùhn4 = to empower; to authorize | ● 治安自理 jih6 [ng]ōn1 jih6 léih5 = ? cf. 治安 = law & order
7. Hongkongers are a unique community with their own distinctive culture, history, experiences and values. We shall maintain our unique identity and continue to create its timely significance to perpetuate these precious characteristics; our identity, history and cultural values shall be respected and safeguarded, in writing and in recording, to be preserved in multiple ways to counter the biased perspectives fabricated and propagated by the authorities.
8. Hongkongers shall have the right to determine the future and affairs of Hong Kong, including any social, institutional and constitutional reforms. Hongkongers shall enjoy a democratic, autonomous and free system. Democracy entails a government and legislature directly elected by the people. By autonomy, it means local affairs are free from the Chinese Communist Party’s interference. Freedom entails the provision of social and economic rights for the people as stipulated by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
9. The Hong Kong government shall implement separation of powers. The judiciary, the executive and the legislature shall not be subordinate to one another. The legal system shall have restricting public power and manifesting justice as the supreme principles. The judges shall adjudicate in accordance with human rights and the rule of law. The highest court shall enjoy the power of interpretation of the constitution.
10. The Hong Kong National Security Law is a draconian law that violates Hongkongers’ freedom of speech, freedom of the person and political freedom, and shall be repudiated immediately. The government shall stop criminalizing speeches, release all political prisoners and guarantee Hongkongers freedom of demonstration, protest, association, publication and speech. The government shall drop all charges against the political exiles.
11. The Chinese Communist Party has been arbitrarily encroaching on Hong Kong’s civil society, destroying the values, principles and moralities of each professional sector, and forcing conscientious Hongkongers to submit to its despotic governance. We urge citizens to hold their bottom line, resist association with the Chinese Communist Party and its evil deeds.
12. Under the Chinese Communist Party’s direct orders and the blind submission of Hong Kong officials, the police force has become an arsenal used by the totalitarian regime to oppress people’s aspirations and rights. The police system must be reformed. A democratic policing system, which truly serves the people, has to be established under the people’s supervision and with the people’s mandate.
陳健民 Chan Kin-man is a very thoughtful fellow and he uses the videos collected in his 健民書房 series to illuminate Hong Kong’s current predicament by offering ideas and insights from the books he has grappled with. In this episode, he tackles the question “Why do good people suffer?” via the prison letters of Korean democracy activist 金大中 Kim Dae Jung. Along the way, he also brings in a visit to Jimmy Lai, still in detention until his forthcoming trial in April or May, Dostoyevsky’s novel The Brothers Karamazov, and some of the ideas of the French philosopher, priest and palaeontologist, Pierre Teilhard de Chardin.
Chan uses plenty of sophisticated vocabulary, much of which is worth making your own. You’ll notice too that he tends to pronounce the third-person pronoun 佢 as héuih5 and is a heavy user of that common filler 即係 *je!
Please scroll down for my transcription and notes (the transcription is a bit rough in places, but the translation is pretty accurate, because I’ve been able to use the subtitles to fill in the parts I can’t hear clearly). 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.
You might also like to make use the Ekho Text to Speech Converter if you have trouble matching any part of the transcribed Chinese text to the spoken version. Just make sure you select “Cantonese” under the language menu before you paste cut and text into the relevant box.
I will add the second part of this episode in the coming weeks . . .
各位，歡迎返到我嘅健民書房 | 前幾日我走去探黎智英先生 | 啊，非常之，即係 *je ，深感觸嘅一次探訪啦 | 我亦都喺 Facebook 裏邊寫咗一個 post 【貼文】啦 | 噉啊見到一個傳媒嘅老闆 | 著住件，即係 *je ，殘舊嘅囚衣 | 坐喺嗰個探訪室玻璃窗嘅另一面 | 當然我係有特別深嘅感觸啦 | 噉但係佢就覺得自己嘅生命係活喺上帝嘅恩典裏邊 | 佢亦都相信上帝對佢嘅人生自有安排嘅 | 噉，呃，好多人都話，喂，其實你一早應該要走剌 | 佢就話，佢能夠為香港做咁多事因爲佢留咗落嚟 | 噉佢覺得係無怨無悔嘅 | 我覺得佢係非常之堅强呀，哈 | 噉作爲一個天主教徒我好相信呢，佢嘅信仰係支撐住佢嘅 | 但當佢一講到屋企人嗰陣時候 | 特別係覺得屋企人好擔心佢呢 | 佢就差唔多，即係 *je ，講唔到，即係 *je ，説話
● 黎智英 Làih4 Ji3 Yīng1 = Jimmy Lai Chee-ying | ● 感觸 gám2 jūk1 = thoughts & feelings; feeling (感觸 is regularly used with 深 sām1 = deep)| ● 殘舊 chàahn4 gauh6 = tattered; ragged; worn out | ● 囚衣 chàuh4 yī1 = prison clothes | ● 探訪室 taam3 fóng2 sāt = (?) visitors room | ● 恩典 yān1 dín2 = grace | ● 自有安排 jih6 yáuh5 [ng]ōn1 pàaih4 = (?) has His own arrangements | ● 無怨無悔 mòuh4 yun3 mòuh4 fui3 = have neither complaints nor regrets | ● 堅强 gīn1 kèuhng4 = strong; firm; staunch | ● 支撐 jī1 chāang1 = to prop up; to sustain; to support
Note: The grammar of the sentence 噉做爲一個天主教徒我好相信呢，佢嘅信仰係支撐住佢嘅 actually suggests that Chan Kin-man is himself a Catholic, but in actual fact the phrase 我好相信呢 is an insertion, and possibly even a form of displacement, coming between 做爲一個天主教徒 and the preposition it modifies, 佢.
Welcome all of you to my “Kin-man’s Bookroom”. A few days ago, I paid a visit to Mr Jimmy Lai, an extremely moving, a deeply moving, visit. I also wrote a post about it on Facebook. Of course, I was deeply moved, seeing this media boss dressed in ragged prison clothes sitting on the other side of a glass window in the visitors room. He, however, felt that he lived his life in the grace of God [係活喺上帝嘅恩典裏邊]. He was also of the belief that God had made arrangements of His own [自有安排] for Lai’s existence. Many people have said that he should have left [Hong Kong] long ago, [but] to this he replied that the reason why he has been able to do so much for Hong Kong is because he stayed. He felt that he had nothing to complain of and has no regrets. My sense is that he is exceptionally strong. Since he is a Catholic, I firmly believe that his faith sustains him. However, once he began to talk about his family, and feeling in particular that his family was very worried about him, it was hard for him to go on talking [講唔到説活].
【1:00】 | 甚至流吓眼淚落嚟嘅 | 噉啊作爲，即係 *je ，曾經坐過監嘅人 | 即係 *je ，對於屋企人嘅内疚我係好完全理解得到嘅 | 噉啊離開咗呢個監獄之後唔夠半個鐘頭呢 | 政府就宣佈呢，用國安法繼續係加控，即係 *je ，黎智英嘅罪名嘅 | 噉佢要，即係 *je ，繼續被還押至到出年四月呢，係先至受審嘅 | 即係 *je 話，未有罪都好啦，已經要坐四五個月嘅監獄嘅 | 噉呢個就係 *jai 香港嘅情況 | 喺佢探訪之後，我係諗起，呃，一本書 | um 亦都係今日呢個健民書房同大家分享嘅 | 因爲嗰個對話好宗教性 | 咁我就諗起 um, 即係 *je ，韓國嘅民主運動嘅金大中 | 佢喺獄中裏邊呢，就寫咗好多信 | 噉啊編咗本書叫做 Prison Writings | 噉啊唔係幾好睇我當時覺得 | 因爲實在太過宗教性喇 | um 嗱，金大中呢 . . .
● 内疚 noih6 gau3 = compunction; guilty conscience | ● 還押 wàahn4 [ng]aat3 = (?) to be remanded in custody | ● 受審 sauh6 sám2 = to stand trial; to be tried | ● 宗教性 jūng1 gaau3 sing3 = of a religious nature | ● 金大中 Gām1 Daaih6 Jūng1 = Kim Dae Jung
He even shed tears. As someone who has spent time in prison, I perfectly comprehend this feeling of guilt with regard to one’s family. Less than half an hour after leaving the prison, the government announced that they would continue to add charges against Jimmy Lai by using the National Security Law. He will remain in custody [awaiting trial] until April or May next year. Which means that, even though he has not yet been found guilty, he still has to spend four or five months in prison. This is what the situation is like in Hong Kong. After my visit to him, I thought of a book, one that I am also sharing with you all today in “Kin-man’s Bookroom”. Because my interchange with Lai was of quite a religious nature, it made me think of Kim Dae Jung, [a figure in] Korea’s democracy movement. While he was in jail, he wrote a great many letters. These were put together in a book called Prison Writings. Not a great read I thought when I first read it because it was too religious. Now Kim Dae Jung . . .
【2:00】噉係韓國嘅，即係 *je ，民主運動嘅領袖啦 | 佢曾經有一件好傳奇嘅事情 | 就喺1973年當佢流亡去到日本呢 | 韓國嘅政府呢，竟然係派佢哋，即係 *je ，C.I.A. ，哈，佢哋嘅中央情報局呢 | 走到日本裏邊擄劫咗佢呢，係返返去，呃，即係 *je ，韓國嘅 | 而喺嗰個公海嗰度呢，甚至係將佢綁咗喺石頭度 | 諗住抌佢落海呢，就整死佢嘅 | 但係點知道呢，就美國嘅，即係 *je ，軍方呢，就一路就知道呢件事情 | 噉就派飛機喺架船嘅上空裏邊呢，係徘徊 | 噉啊一路監察住佢之後呢，呢個韓國嘅軍政府先至冇落手嘅 | 噉啊結果就送返返去，即係 *je ，韓國嘅本土嘅 | 噉但係佢喺呢個1980年嗰陣時候呢 | 因爲呢個光州嘅事件呢 | 佢係曾經被政府呢，係被，呃，控告 | 跟住就送到軍事法庭裏邊呢，告佢一個叛亂罪嘅
● 領袖 líhng5 jauh6 = leader | ● 傳奇 chyùhn4 kèih4 = as an adjective, this means “legendary”, referring to someone “unusual” [奇] whose exploits are “passed on down” [傳] through the ages | ● 中央情報局 Jūng1 Yēung1 Chìhng4 Bou3 Guhk6 = the Central Intelligence Agency | ● 擄劫 lóuh5 gip3 = (?) to abduct | ● 公海 gūng1 hói2 = the high seas | ● 丟抌 dīu1 dám2 = (?) to throw away; to discard | ● 整死 jíng2 séi2 = (?) to kill; to do away with | ● 軍方 gwān1 fōng1 = the military | ● 徘徊 pùih4 wùih4 = usu. “to pace up & down” or “to wander”, but here the context suggests “to hang around” or “to fly back and forth (overhead)” | ● 軍政府 gwān1 jing3 fú2 = a military government | ● 落手 lohk6 sáu2 = usu. “to set about”; perhaps “to lay a hand on” or “to do the deed” here | ● 本土 bún2 tóu2 = one’s native country | ● 光州嘅事件 Gwōng1 Jāu1 ge3 Sih6 Gín6*2 = the Gwangju massacre in the aftermath of the coup d’état of December Twelfth | ● 控告 hung3 gou3 = to charge; to accuse | ● 叛亂罪 buhn6 lyuhn6 jeuih6 = ? cf. 叛亂 = “armed rebellion”
Note: I cannot find a dictionary definition for the compound 擄劫. Also, remember that as a verb 整 jíng2 in Cantonese can take on a whole range of meanings, just like “to make” or “to do” in English. Only the resultative 死 (“dead”) gives the specific meaning of “to kill”.
. . . was a leader in Korea of the democracy movement. Something once happened to him which is the stuff of legends. In 1973, while he was in exile in Japan, the Korean government actually went so far as [竟然] to dispatch members of their own secret service to abduct him and take him back to Korea. [Sailing back] on the high seas, they even went so far as to tie him to a rock [將佢綁咗喺石頭度] with the intention of throwing him down [into the water] in order to kill him. But who would have guessed that the American army had all along known about this matter and so sent an aeroplane to fly back and forth above the ship to keep an eye on it and only because of this, the Korean military government did not go through with the killing. As a result, he was sent back to his own country, Korea. However, in 1980, owing to the Gwangju Massacre, he was charged by the government and sent to [appear before] a military court, where he was accused of the crime of (?) armed rebellion [叛亂罪].
【3:00】就判佢死刑嘅 | 噉結果喺美國同埋日本嘅壓力底下呢，先至係轉咗係一個，即係 *je ，入獄嘅一個嘅，即係 *je ，嘅懲罰 | 噉啊結果，獄中裏邊呢，先係，呃，坐咗大概六個月度，五、六個月都係單獨監禁嘅 | 跟住呢，先只係正式監禁大概年幾兩年度 | 佢就離開監獄嘅 | 噉佢坐過五、六個月呢，有啲似而家，即係 *je ，黎智英個情況呢，黎智英而家都係單獨監禁緊嘅 | 佢，呃，除咗嗰次嘅監禁之外呢，1985年至到86年呢，佢亦都係被軟禁，哈 | 就唔係正正式式喺監獄裏邊呢，係被軟禁嘅 | 噉所以其實佢陸陸續續咁樣不斷咁樣係坐監呀 | 受到生命嘅威脅嘅 | 佢喺佢坐監同埋被軟件期間呢 | 佢都係容許寫信俾屋企人 | 但係都係一張紙，一個信箋嘅 | 喺一張好薄嘅紙
● 死刑 séi2 yìhng4 = the death penalty | ● 入獄 yahp6 yuhk6 = to be put in prison; to be sent to jail | ● 懲罰 chìhng4 faht6 = to punish; to penalize | ● 度 dóu2 = roughly; approximately; almost | ● 單獨監禁 dāan1 duhk6 gāam1 gam3 = (?) solitary confinement | ● 有啲似 yáuh5 dī1 chíh5 = there is something of a resemblance to | ● 軟禁 yúhn5 gam3 = to put sb. under house arrest | ● 陸陸續續 luhk6 luhk6 juhk6 juhk6 = one after another; in succession| ● 容許 yùhng4 héui1 = to tolerate; to permit; to allow | ● 信簡 seun3 gáan2 = ? cf. 簡 gáan2 = letter; note; bamboo slip (for writing on) (In Cantonese 信箋 seun3 jin3 = “letter paper” is not (generally) used, it would seem.)
Subsequently, he was given the death penalty but, under pressure from the United States and Japan, this was reduced [轉咗] to punishment by imprisonment [instead]. As a result, he was put in prison for approximately 6 months, he was in solitary confinement for 5 or 6 months, then after that, he officially went to prison for roughly two years. He spent 5 or 6 months in prison, a bit like what has happened to Jimmy Lai, who is now in solitary confinement. Apart from this spell in prison, between 1985 and 1986 [Kim Dae Jung] was put under house arrest, not officially in prison but under house arrest. So, he spent his time in one form of prison or another [不斷咁樣係坐監] and he lived in danger of his life [受到生命嘅威脅嘅]. While he was in prison and under house arrest, he was permitted to write letters to his family, but only one piece of paper, a sheet of letter paper, on a sheet of very thin paper . . .
【4:00】就寫嗮下落去，而且經過政治審查 | 所以佢信裏邊呢，其實好少係講到政治嘅問題 | 基本上咪都係講佢嘅宗教信仰呀 | 呃，講佢，即係 *je ，點樣叮囑佢啲屋企人點樣去到呢，好好哋，即係 *je ，過生活呀 | 教啲細路仔讀大學時報咩科呀，咁樣嘅 | 噉呢一次呢，我係佢嘅呢本書裏邊呢，就揀咗一封信呢 | 係喺1985年佢軟禁嗰陣時11月2號寫嘅 | 呢封信係，呃，我覺得係好特別嘅封信呢 | 封信個題目係 “What is This Called My Life?” ，呢個：我的生命究竟係啲咩嘢呢 | 「我嘅生命究竟係啲咩嘢呢」就係 *jai 呢封信嘅主旨嚟㗎 | 噉呢封信佢寫嘅嗰陣時佢緣起呢 | 就係佢一朝早起身嗰陣時候呢 | 佢望出去出邊嗰個花園嗰度呢 | 佢發覺呢 . . .
● 審查 sám2 chàah4 = to examine; to investigate | ● 叮囑 dīng1 jūk1 = to urge again & again; to warn; to exhort | ● 主旨 jyú2 jí2 = purport; substance; gist | ● 緣起 yùhn4 héi2 = genesis; origin | ● 出邊 chēut1 bīn1 = outside
. . . the whole of [these letters] were written down and were inspected for political content [經過政治審查]. For this reason, there is actually little discussion of political matters [in them]. Basically, the letters talk about things such as religious faith, advising his family how to go about living a good life, and instructing his children about what subjects they should take at university. Now on this occasion I have chosen one letter that was written on 2 November 1985 while he was under house arrest. This letter is one I feel to be a very special letter. It bears the title of [個題目係] “What is This Called My Life?” (sic) [Kin-man then provides a translation in Cantonese]. And “What is This Called My Life?” is the main substance [主旨] of this letter. In this letter, he writes that it all started [佢緣起] when he got up one morning and looked out at the garden outside, and discovered that . . .
【5:00】. . . 佢所種嘅花呢，除咗菊花之外呢，其他全部呢，都死嗮 | 就好似我哋嘅呢幾日突然間天氣凍呢 | 噉啲花呢，都突然間就凋謝咗喇 | 佢有個好强烈嘅哀愁同埋空虛嘅感覺 | 噉佢話呢，其實一個人呢，當你被某啲嘢吸引住呢 | 噉開始你就有種依戀嘅話呢，咁你就要承受一種，即係 *je ，分離之苦喇 | 噉你可能依戀住就係呢啲花 | 呢啲花死嗰陣時，你就有一種憂愁嘅感覺 | 如果你就依戀你屋企人嘅話 | 當你同佢哋分離 | 譬如話你坐監嘅時候呢 | 你都會承受住呢一種痛苦喇 | 佢寫呢封信陣時 | 佢話佢有好强烈嘅一種，即係 *je ，想家嘅感覺 | 好懷念住佢屋企人 | 噉所以呢封信呢，係好觸動到我嘅 | 我亦都好相信呢，就好似黎智英而家，即係 *je ，呢種嘅狀態 | 噉佢問喇，話其實我啲嘅生命係啲咩嘢呢，咁樣？| 佢話佢自己覺得佢自己嘅人生呢，係充滿咗一連串嘅厄運
● 凋謝 dīu1 jeh6 = to wither & fall | ● 哀愁 ōi1 sàuh4 = sad; sorrowful | ● 依戀 yī1 lyún2 = be reluctant to leave; to feel regret at parting from | ● 承受 sìhng4 sauh6 = to bear; to support; to endure | ● 分離之苦 fān1 lèih4 jī1 fú2 = (?) the pain of separation | ● 憂愁 yāu1 sàuh4 = sad; worried; depressed | ● 想家 séung2 gāa1 = to be homesick | ● 懷念wàaih4 nihm6 = to cherish the memory of; to think of | ● 觸動 jūk1 duhng6 = to move sb.; to stir up sb.’s feelings | ● 厄運 āk1 wahn6 = adversity; misfortune
. . . all the flowers he had planted had all died, apart from the chrysanthemums. It was like the sudden cold snap we’ve had here [in Hong Kong] in these past few days. [In response to] the sudden withering of these flowers, he had very strong feelings of sadness and regret [at the loss]. He says that actually when you feel an attraction for something then you will begin to feel a reluctance to be separated from [it]. And so, you must endure the pain of separation. You may feel reluctant to be separated from some flowers, and when they die, you then have feelings of sadness. If you feel a reluctance to be separated from your family, when you come to be separated from them, for example when you are put in prison, you will also endure a form of pain. When he wrote this letter, he said he was experiencing strong feelings of homesickness and was missing [懷念] his family. For this reason, this letter moved me very much and I can well believe that [what the letter describes] is very much like Jimmy Lai’s situation at present. [So Kim Dae Jung] asks: What actually is this human life of ours? He says that he felt that his own life was filled with a series of misfortunes.
【6:00】正我 . . . 正如我 // 所講呢，係咪，佢走過生死啦、又坐過監咁樣、又被人軟禁咁樣 | 佢話自己好似都冇 . . . 曾經冇好快樂咁樣生活過 | 噉咩先至係所謂快樂生活過呢 | 就係無憂無慮啦 | 可以同屋企人一齊啦，咁樣 | 佢成日都過唔到呢一種嘅生活嘅 | 噉但佢又追問呢，// 其他好多人其實生活上面都係好舒適嘅 | 亦都可以同屋企人 // 喺埋一齊嘅 | 但係係咪嗰啲人就覺得自己人生好有意義嘅，咁樣？ | 佢發覺唔係喎 | 嗰啲人又覺得好多時候係虛度人生嘅 | 噉所以究竟，即係 *je ，佢嘅生命係咩嘢呢？| 佢冇咗其他平常人嗰種快樂 | 但係係咪佢又覺得佢自己人生冇意義呢，咁樣？ | 佢又覺得佢又唔係呀 | 佢覺得佢冇後悔嘅噃 | 如果佢話佢自己有咩嘢真真正正好難受呢 | 佢覺得第一就話佢想到佢自己 . . .
● 無憂無慮 mòuh4 yāu1 mòuh4 leuih6 = not have a care in the world | ● 舒適 syū1 sīk1 = comfortable; cosy; snug | ● 發覺 faat3 gok3 = to find; to detect; to discover | ● 虛度 hēui1 douh6 = to spend time in vain; to waste | ● 後悔 hauh6 fui3 = to regret; to repent
Note: Someone was kind enough to provide the following explanation of the use of 噃 bō1 in this segment: “I think 噃 bō1 is similar, if not identical to 喎 wō1, which is used like a filler word in English, or to express a slight level of surprise. […] And in 佢覺得佢冇後悔嘅噃, it is even more pronounced since he should, in normal sense, feel that life is meaningless and would feel regret upon reflecting on his experience, yet he feels the opposite: he thinks that he had no regrets. In this case, the 噃 is quite useful to express the contrast in a subtle manner . . .”
Just, just as I mentioned just now, didn’t I, he had been through a lot [走過生死], spending time in prison as well as being put under house arrest. He said that he had never been happy in his life. Now what is needed [咩先至] before we can call something a “happy life”? Being free from all worry, and being able to spend time with one’s family. Such a life he had never enjoyed himself, but then he goes on to ask: There are many people whose lives are very comfortable, who are able to spend time together with their families, but do those people feel that their lives have any meaning? He found that this was not the case. Much of the time, such people felt that they had lived their lives in vain. For this reason, then, what was this thing called his life, when all was said and done [究竟]? He had not had those kinds of happiness that ordinary people have, but did he feel that his own life was meaningless? No, he thought, it was not. He felt that he had no regrets. He said if there was anything that he felt to be truly [真真正正] very hard to bear, he thought firstly of his own . . .
【7:00】. . . 參與喺民主運動裏邊呢，連累咗屋企人 | 噉呢個係一個好深嘅内疚 | 第二樣嘢佢覺得人生裏邊呢，好多人呢，其實都對佢好好嘅 | 亦都俾咗好多幫忙佢嘅 | 但佢係冇機會呢，去到報恩 | 嗱，呢一種係連累，呃，家人同埋冇法報恩嘅感覺呢 | 係佢 . . . 如果你問佢有咩後悔呢？| 佢覺得比較難受呢 | 其實係，即係 *je ，呢一個，即係 *je ，部分 // | 噉啊佢話，佢對人生其實係一個最大，最大嘅一種嘅疑惑呢 | 就係佢見到佢點樣去就係「殺人放火金腰帶」| 見到呢，就係義人、好人呢，反而係要蒙難嘅 | 噉呢種都唔係我哋話，啊「好人有好報，即係 *je ，惡人有惡報」，唔係咁喎 | 佢見到現實人世唔係咁嘅 | 噉呢個就係佢人生裏邊呢，其實係一個最大最大一個，即係 *je ，疑惑、係個謎團嚟㗎 | 噉佢就喺呢封信裏邊講到呢，中國嘅歷史裏邊呢 . . .
● 連累 lìhn4 leuih6 = to implicate; to involve; to get sb. into trouble | ● 報恩 bou3 yān1 = to pay a debt of gratitude | ● 疑惑 yìh4 waahk6 = feel uncertain; not be convinced | ● 殺人放火金腰帶 saat3 yàhn4 fong3 fó2 gām1 yīu1 daai3 = “murderers & arsonists have their purses full of gold” cf. This is part of a longer phrase used to suggest that only the wicker prosper. The second part reads: 修橋補路冇屍骸 and seems to mean something like “those who build bridges & make roads end up as penniless skeletons (?) | ● 義人 yih6 yàhn4 = ? cf. 義士 yih6 sih6 = a person who upholds justice | ● 蒙難 mùhng4 naahn6= (of a revolutionary) be confronted by danger; fall into the clutches of the enemy | ● 謎團 màih4 tyùhn4 = doubts & suspicions
. . . participation in the democracy movement [and how it] had implicated members of his family. This was a very deep guilt. The second thing was that he felt that many people in his life had actually been very good to him and had helped him enormously, but he had never had the chance to repay his debts of gratitude. Now these feelings [connected with] the implication of family members and the failure to repay his debts of gratitude were his . . . If you asked him whether he had any regrets, what he felt quite distressed about were these [two] parts [of his experience]. He said that in fact his greatest doubts about human life had to do with seeing how “murderers and arsonists have their purses full of gold”, while those who tried to uphold justice, good people, fell into the clutches of the enemy [蒙難]. Now this is not the “good people get good things, while bad people get bad things” we often talk about, it’s not like that. He saw that life in the real world was not like that. Now this was a great doubt he had in his life, a tangled mess of doubts and misgivings [謎團]. In this letter, he goes on to talk about something in Chinese history . . .
【8:00】. . . 呃，司馬遷嘅故事 | 噉啊司馬遷大家知道係一個，即係 *je ，寫，即係 *je ，咁重要嘅中國嘅歷史學家 [啦] | 噉但係當時裏邊呢，喺漢代漢武帝嘅時期裏邊呢 | 佢因爲為咗一個人，係一個將軍，去到辯護 | 因爲呢，當時呢個將軍呢，打敗仗 [呀] | 噉啊漢武帝呢，就要，即係 *je ，要殺佢，咁樣 | 噉佢就講呢，其實唔係罪 . . . 喺佢嘅身上邊 | 因爲只有啲救兵嚟唔切嘅啫 | 亦都係，[係] 呢個皇帝呢，即係 *je ，暗示呀，係用人嗰陣時係用得不當 | 所以呢，佢冇足夠嘅，即係 *je ，調配呀，即係 *je ，援助呀 | 結果全部都係打 // | 其實佢已經係好勇敢 | 嗱，// 講法呢，其實令到漢武帝就係好嬲 [喇] | [就] 話，係咪我，即係 *je ，唔識，即係 *je ，調兵遣將呢？我用錯人呢？| 啊，你正 // 諷刺緊，即係 *je ，我啫 | 之前其實已經唔係幾滿意司馬遷呢，寫佢嗰陣時候 [呢]，有啲嘅伏筆呢 | 其實都喺 [度] 講緊，即係 *je ， 個 . . .
● 司馬遷 Sī1 Máah5 Chīn1 = Sima Qian | ● 辯護 bihn6 wuh6 = to speak in defence of; to defend | ● 打敗仗 dáa2 baih6 jeung3 = to suffer a defeat; to be defeated in battle | ● 救兵 gau3 bīng1 = reinforcements | ● 嚟唔切 lèih4 mh4 chit3 = not arrive in time | ● 用得不當 yuhng6 dāk1 bāt1 dōng1 = used inappropriately | ● 調配 diuh6 pui3 = to allocate; to deploy | ● 援助 wùhn4 joh6 = to help; to support; to aid| ● 調兵遣將 diuh6 bīng1 hín2 jeung3 = to move troops; to deploy forces | ● 諷刺 fung3 chi3 = to satirize; to mock | ● 伏筆 fuhk6 bāt1 = usu. a hint foreshadowing later developments in a story, essay, etc.; foreshadowing
. . . the story of Sima Qian. Now as everyone knows, Sima Qian was such an important Chinese historian. However, back in those times, in the days when Han Wu Di was emperor, because he [i.e. Sima Qian] came to the defence of a certain general. Because this general had, at the that time, been defeated in battle, so, Han Wu Di wanted to have him [i.e. the general] put to death. [Sima Qian] said that the crime was not his [i.e. the general’s]. It was merely because reinforcements did not arrive on time. He also implied that this emperor made inappropriate use of army personnel [用人嗰陣時]. And so, he [i.e. the general] did not have a sufficient deployment [調配] or support. And as a result, he was defeated. As a matter of fact, he [i.e. the general] showed great courage. Now [Sima Qian’s] comments enraged Han Wu Di, who asked: Are you saying (?) that I don’t know how to deploy my forces? That I made the wrong use of personnel? You are making fun of me! In fact, before that, [Han Wu Di] had not been too pleased with Sima Qian and, when he wrote about his [i.e. Han Wu Di’s] time [as emperor], there were a few hints of things to come [in his History] in which in fact he was talking about . . .
【9:00】. . . 漢武帝嘅不是嘅 | 噉結果呢，漢武帝呢，就要判佢呢，係死刑 | 噉啊判死刑呢，又有兩個方法解方 . . . 解決方法佢哋 | 一嚟呀，[你] 可以取替嘅方案就係你用好多好多錢呢，你 [都] 可以贖身嘅 | 噉但係司馬遷冇 | 第樣嘢呢，就係你可以接受個腐刑 | 所謂「腐刑」，即係 *je 「腐爛」嘅「腐」呢，其實就係一個，即係 *je ，宮刑嚟㗎 | 就係呢，要進行閹割嘅 | 噉啊金大中就用呢個故事 [嚟講就話] | 嘩，對一個男士嚟講係幾咁大嘅一個羞辱，去接受呢個咁樣嘅閹割 | 而佢只不過係一個正直個人，講出一啲，即係 *je ，真相，講真話 [呢] | 結果就受到咁樣嘅，即係 *je ，報復 | 噉所以 [佢] 好人唔一定係得到好報 | 噉啊點樣，即係 *je ，解脫呢件事情呢？| 即係 *je ，對呢種嘅疑惑佢 [主要] 點樣去到，即係 *je ，解開嗰啲疑惑呢，咁？| 喺呢封信裏邊呢，就話佢曾經係受到兩個人嘅作品 . . .
● 不是 bāt1 sih6 = (noun) fault; blame | ● 死刑 séi2 yìhng4 = the death penalty | ● 贖身 suhk6 sān1 = (of slaves, prostitutes) to redeem oneself; to buy back one’s freedom | ● 腐刑 fuh6 yìhng4 = (?) cf. 宮刑 | ● 腐爛 fuh6 laahn6 = 1. decomposed; putrid 2. corrupt; rotten | ● 宮刑 gūng1 yìhng4 = castration (a punishment in ancient China) | ● 閹割 yīm1 got3 = to castrate or spay; to emasculate | ● 羞辱 sāu1 yuhk6 = 1. shame; dishonour; humiliation 2. humiliation; to put sb. to shame | ● 正直 jing3 jihk6 = honest; upright; fair-minded | ● 報復 bou3 fuhk6 = to make reprisals; to retaliate | ● 解開 gáai2 hōi1 = to untie; to undo; to get rid of
. . . Han Wu Di’s faults. The upshot was, Han Wu Di condemned him [i.e. Sima Qian] to death. Now there were two options available for avoiding the death penalty. The first way was to [offer a replacement] by giving a lot of money to buy back your life [贖身]. Sima Qian, however, did not [have lots of money]. The second option was to accept a form of punishment known as fu ying. The fu here is that fu that is used in the compound fu laan, meaning “putrid” or “rotten”. This kind of castration, the carrying out of yim got, castration. Kim Dae Jung made use of this story to say that for a man to accept such a punishment by castration was an enormous humiliation. He was no more and no less than a fair-minded man telling the truth, saying what was true. As a result, [he] was on the receiving end [受到] such a form of retaliation. And so he said good people do not necessarily get good things. And so [the question is]: how do we free ourselves from such a thing? How do we rid ourselves of such uncertainties? In this letter, he states that the writings of two people . . .
【10:00】. . . 嘅影響呢 | 係令到佢開始睇通 [咗] 啲嘢 ，得到啲啓示嘅 | 第一個呢，就係我自己大學時好鍾意睇 [嘅] 一本書嘅 | 就係《卡拉馬佐夫的弟兄們》 | 噉呢本書係杜斯妥也夫斯基寫嘅一本嘅小説，哈 | 呢本俄國小説喺我以前讀大學嘅時代裏邊係一個好流行嘅一個小説 | 好重要嘅小説 | [噉] 我話俾你聽，我讀呢本書嘅感覺係點 [呀]？ | 我 [又] 讀到某啲章節嗰陣時候呢 | 我覺得我想跪低祈禱嘅，係變咗好虔誠 | 但讀到某啲章節嗰陣時，我都 [覺得] 上帝已死 | 噉根本冇上帝，[喺] 呢個世界 | 即係 *je 佢可以將你個情緒帶動到咁極端嘅 | 噉我係好鍾意呢本書嘅 | 噉佢亦都提到呢一本書對佢嘅影響 | 佢覺得呢本書裏邊嘅，嗰，嗰三兄弟裏邊 // 其中嘅大哥呢 | 最臨尾因爲同個爸爸，即係 *je，爭，爭女仔呀，哈 | 結果呢，就某個情況底下爸爸死咗 | 結果佢告呀，話佢殺死佢爸爸 | 噉呢個嘅，呃，大哥 . . .
● 啓示 kái2 sih6 = enlightenment; inspiration; revelation | ● 《卡拉馬佐夫的弟兄們》Kāa1 Lāai1 Máah5 Jo3 Fū1 Dīk1 Daih6 Hīng1 Mùhn4 = The Brothers Karamazov | ● 杜斯妥也夫斯基 Douh6 Sī1 Tóh5 Yáah5 Fū1 Sī1 Gēi1 = Fyodor Dostoyevsky | ● 俄國 Ngòh4 Gwok3 = Russia | ● 章節 jēung1 jit3 = chapters (this may be one of those words that seems to have a built-in plural sense cf. 船隻 = ships) | ● 跪低 gwaih6 dāi1 = to kneel down | ● 虔誠 kìhn4 sìhng4 = pious; devout | ● 帶動 daai3 duhng6 = to drive; to spur; to bring along | ● 最臨尾 jeui3 làhm4 méih5 = ? in the end cf. 臨尾 = final (Sheik)
Influenced him and made him able to start to see more clearly about things, and to get some illumination. The first was [a book] that I myself liked very much when I was at university, The Brothers Karamazov. This book is a novel written by Fyodor Dostoyevsky. This Russian novel was very popular back in those days when I was studying at university, and it was a very important one. Let me tell you what my feelings were like when I read it. Some of the chapters in it made me want to get down on my knees and pray when I read them, and I felt very pious. But other chapters in the book made me feel that God was already dead, that there was no God in this world. His narrative [佢可以講?] could drive you to [different] extremes. I like this book very much and so does [Kim Dae Jung], who refers to its influence on him. In his opinion, of the three brothers [UNCLEAR] The elder brother argues with his father in the end over a woman and, as a result, the father dies in [rather] particular circumstances. This results in the elder brother being charged with the murder of his father.
Whatever its intended purpose, the current objective of Hong Kong’s new National Security Law is to rebrand democracy as “subversion” and to eliminate any genuine opposition from the political landscape, a move in accord with the increasingly authoritarian mindset.
Former Democratic Party chairperson 胡志偉 Wu Chi Wai was arrested on 6 January in connection with an alleged unauthorised assembly on 1 July 2020. He was denied bail after failing to surrender a British National (Overseas) passport to authorities and is being held at the 荔枝角收押所 Lai Chi Kok Reception Centre, a maximum security institution. The following letter was written from there, and is dated 19 January. It was posted on the HK01 website here. Some background in English on Wu’s arrest can be found on the Hong Kong Free Press website here.
● 街坊 gāai1 fōng1 = neighbourhood | ● 逆境 yihk6 gíng2 = adverse circumstances; adversity | ● 强心針 kèuhng4 sām1 jām1 = (?) perhaps something like “a shot in the arm; a boost” in English cf. 强心劑 = cardiac stimulant (a medical term)| ● 愛護 oi3 wuh6 = to cherish; to treasure; to take good care of
Dear neighbourhood friends,
As I face adversity, the blessings, concern and support I have received from you all has been a real shot in the arm [强心針] and warmth [暖氣] in this frigid winter. Please allow me to thank you all for [the way] you have cherished me [對我的愛護].
● 演譯 yín2 yihk6 = usu. “deduction” but also “to interpret; to expound; to develop” & written 演繹 | ● 無言以對 mòuh4 yìhn4 yíh5 deui3 = words fail one
People act and Heaven watches. What is clearly [明明] written down in the articles of the Basic Law can be arbitrarily interpreted [so that it] leaves behind the world known to the run of common people [大衆]. [But on the subject of] who is right and who is wrong, words fail me.
● 賜予 chi3 yúh5 = to grant; to bestow | ● 應付 ying3 fuh6 = to deal with; to cope with; to handle | ● 預料 yuh6 liuh6 = to expect; to predict; to anticipate | ● 珍惜 jān1 sīk1 = to treasure; to value; to cherish | ● 親情 chān1 chìhng4 = affection (perhaps generally, more specifically, between blood relations)
Democracy has never been bestowed [on anyone]. Compared to other friends who have made many more sacrifices [付出更多的], I can cope with things, even though I am faced with not a few difficulties. Who can tell [未可預料] whether the future is likely to bring longer days without freedom as well as more losses of freedom (?). [Let us] treasure the present moment, as well as family affection, love, friendship and good health.
To [all] good people, I wish a lifetime of peace! “Add oil” to the people of Hong Kong!
The recent arrest of 53 people connected with the democratic movement continues the sustained effort to establish an authoritarian style of government in Hong Kong and to criminalize dissent of any kind.
In July 2020, 戴耀廷 Benny Tai and others organized a primary election for people associated with the democratic camp. Identifying the most popular candidates, he hoped, would enable the democrats to win a majority of seats in the Legislative Council (click here to see a brief report on this by HK01). According to the Secretary for Security 李家超John Lee Ka-chiu, himself a former policeman, these primary elections constituted “a malicious plan to paralyse the SAR government”. The man largely responsible for implementing the National Security Law in Hong Kong, 李桂華Steve Li Kwai-wah used the phrase “to bring our government to a complete standstill” with regard to the primaries and then compared Tai’s actions to that of a person intending to commit robbery. The idea that a government is not a fixed entity but one that evolves in response to the wishes of the people it governs is absent from both views.
You can view the HK01 video by an unnamed reporter here, but scroll down if you want the Cantonese transcript, notes and translation. For interest’s sake, I have also added the official English translation of Article 22 of the National Security Law dealing with “subversion” [顛覆國家政權罪]. 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.
You might also like to make use the Ekho Text to Speech Converter if you have trouble matching any part of the transcribed Chinese text to the spoken version. Just make sure you select “Cantonese” under the language menu before you paste cut and text into the relevant box.
李家超（保安侷局長）：. . . 涉嫌顛覆國家政權罪嘅活躍份子 | 圖謀以一個歹毒嘅計劃 | 去癱瘓特區政府 | 如果呢個歹毒嘅計劃得逞嘅話 | 而香港亦都可能要再經歷過一個萬劫不復嘅深淵
● 活躍份子 = active element; activist| ● 圖謀 = to plot; to scheme; to conspire | ● 歹毒 = malicious | ● 得逞 = (pejorative) to have one’s way; to succeed; to prevail | ● 萬劫不復 = beyond redemption; never to be recovered or restored | ● 深淵 = abyss
John Lee Ka-chiu (Secretary for Security): . . . activists suspected of the crime of subverting state power and plotting with a malicious plan to paralyze the SAR government. Had this malicious plot succeeded, Hong Kong could possibly have experienced yet another abyss, never to be recovered from (?).
● 發起 = to start; to launch | ● 「35+民主派初選」= The 35+ Primaries for the Democrats | ● 干犯 = to offend; to encroach upon; to break (the law) | ● 板塊 = main parts; sector | ● 濫捕 = (?) to arrest people excessively/indiscriminately
Reporter: The police Office for Safeguarding National Security dispatched over a thousand police officers and arrested 53 individuals who had initiated or taken part in last year’s 35+ Primaries for the Democrats, claiming [話] that they were under suspicion of having violated Article 22 of the National Security Law, [dealing with] subversion. (Democrats chanting slogans.) Members from the democratic groups [民主派唔同板塊] criticized [the action] as “an excessive use of arrests” [濫捕] during a meeting with the press.
● 初選 = a primary election | ● 生案白造 saang1 on1 baahk6 jouh6 = to fabricate; to cook up a story; to make up without evidence | ● 危害 = to harm; to jeopardize; to endanger | ● 萬能 key (or 萬能鑰匙) maahn6 nahng4 (yeuhk6 sih4) = a master key; a skeleton key; a passkey | ● 白色恐怖 = white terror
Lo Kin-hei (Chairperson of the Hong Kong Democrats): Primary elections are something that any (political) camp can freely undertake. Any camp or any party having to do a primary election to choose candidates is perfectly reasonable, perfectly normal, something completely devoid of anything inappropriate. To cook up some story and say that it jeopardizes national security. After the National Security Law became a master key, what we have all seen is white terror.
李桂華（國安處高級警司）：. . . 係咪唔俾人初選呢，做呢啲咁嘅嘢呢？| 大家都知道 | 初選係其他嘅國家都會 [UNCLEAR] 嘅 | 但係呢啲嘅運動呢，通常呢，去到嚟選擇啲合適嘅人選呢 | 同埋選擇啲適當嘅人選去參加佢哋嘅議會 | 但係正正我哋今次依個呢，並非如此 | 佢哋係只有一個目標 | 希望能夠令到我哋嘅政府停擺 | 有一個人揸車去打劫 | 揸車冇問題嘅 | 但係佢諗 [UNCLEAR] 去打劫 | [UNCLEAR] | 咁就係犯法嘅
● 人選 = a candidate | ● 並非如此 = not at all like this | ● 停擺 = (of a pendulum) to come to a standstill; stop | ● 打劫 = to rob; to plunder; to loot
Steve Li Kwai-wah (Senior Superintendent of the National Security Division): . . . is it that we aren’t letting people hold primary elections? As everyone knows, primary elections are also held in other countries, but such events [運動] are usually for the selection of suitable candidates and the choosing of desirable candidates to become members of parliament [參加佢哋嘅議會]. But this is not what we have in this instance. They only have one aim: to bring our government to a complete standstill. [If] a person drives off in a car to commit robbery, the driving of the car is no problem, but if that person was doing so in order to rob someone, for this reason it is against the law.
● 兌現 = to cash (a cheque) | ● 挑戰 = to challenge
Raphael Wong (Chairperson of the League of Social Democrats): I mean, now it’s not me grabbing a gun and [heading off] to commit robbery but a cheque issued [俾咗] by the government to the people. What we want is for the representatives of the will of the people [民意代表] to go and cash the cheque, to use what was written down in the Basic Law right from the start [一早], a right that for ever so many years no one has ever challenged. But at this time (?) when we want to go and get our money, you tell us that we are committing robbery.
● 無限 = infinite; limitless; boundless | ●上綱 = to raise to the higher plane of principle; elevate an issue to the level of principle | ● 不容 = not tolerate; not allow; not brook | ● 檢控 = to prosecute | ● 作爲 = conduct; a deed; an action 法制 = legal institution; legal system; legality
Alan Leong Kah-kit (Chairperson of the Civic Party): Steve Li Kwai-wah [and (?)] John Lee Ka-chiu have been elevating without limit his [that is, Benny Tai’s] essays to the level of principle. In my view, this is not allowed under our common law in any shape or form [完全]. It is merely a legality for prosecuting [certain] criminal acts or behaviours.
[A list of some of the major people arrested is given. For the list in English, see this report on the Hong Kong Free Press website]
Reporter: The police say they do not rule out [the possibility] of further arrests.
The Law of the People’s Republic of China on Safeguarding National Security in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region
Part 2 Subversion
Article 22 A person who organises, plans, commits or participates in any of the following acts by force or threat of force or other unlawful means with a view to subverting the State power shall be guilty of an offence:
(1) overthrowing or undermining the basic system of the People’s Republic of China established by the Constitution of the People’s Republic of China;
(2) overthrowing the body of central power of the People’s Republic of China or the body of power of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region;
(3) seriously interfering in, disrupting, or undermining the performance of duties and functions in accordance with the law by the body of central power of the People’s Republic of China or the body of power of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region; or
(4) attacking or damaging the premises and facilities used by the body of power of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region to perform its duties and functions, rendering it incapable of performing its normal duties and functions.
A person who is a principal offender or a person who commits an offence of a grave nature shall be sentenced to life imprisonment or fixed-term imprisonment of not less than ten years; a person who actively participates in the offence shall be sentenced to fixed-term imprisonment of not less than three years but not more than ten years; and other participants shall be sentenced to fixed-term imprisonment of not more than three years, short-term detention or restriction.
The Lennon Walls that appeared as a spontaneous form of protest across Hong Kong were dismantled in the latter half of 2020, but on Day 1 of 2021 they have come back to us in a new form: the Lennon Banner. The one featured in the photograph bears the words 釋放政治犯 (“Release Political Prisoners”) and references the Lennon Walls with its orange and purple post-it note squares.
The report, from 劉錦華 Làuh4 Gám2 Wàah4 at HK01 provides some of the background to the banners. As one of the councillors of the Kwai Tsing District said in a speech, the main thing is 並指希望藉行動表達過去一年港人雖受打壓，但依然人心不死的訊息 — to express the message that the will of the people will never die, despite the repression Hongkongers have endured over the past year.
For the original report and extra photographs of the Lennon Banners, just click here.
● 發起 faat3 héi2 = to start; to launch | ● 巡遊 chèuhn4 yàuh4 = usu. to make an inspection circuit | ● 連儂布 Lìhn4 Nùhng4 Bou3 = a Lennon (Fabric) Banner cf. Lennon Wall | ● 響應 héung2 ying3 = to respond; to answer | ● 聲援 sīng1 wùhn4 = to express support for; to support
Today (1 January) the Civil Human Rights Front launched a kind of touring protest [巡遊] in many districts, to display to the public [inscribed] “Lennon Banners”, [featuring] signatures and short written messages [字句] previously collected in a number of districts. As part of this [當中], democratic councillors in the Kwai Tsing District also responded with an action, expressing support for the 12 Hong Kongers at the Kwai Chung Plaza.
● 輪流 lèuhn4 láu4*2 = to take turns; to do sth. in turn | ● 在囚 joih6 chàuh4 = (?) in prison; imprisoned | ● 人心不死 yàhn4 sām1 bāt1 séi2 = (?) the will of the people will never die | ● 訊息 seun3 sīk1 = message
Quite a number of councillors in the Kwai Tsing District took it in turns to make speeches, calling on citizens to continue to be concerned about Hong Kong people in prison or in exile, and called on China to release all political prisoners. They also hoped that, by means of this action, they could express the message that the will of the people will never die, despite the repression Hongkongers have endured over the past year.
展示 jín2 sih6 = to display | ● 衝鋒車 chūng1 fūng1 chē1 = (?) assault vehicle | ● 戒備 gaai3 beih6 = to be on standby; to guard; to be on guard
While councillors in the Kwai Tsing District were displaying the “Lennon Banner”, three assault vehicles and more than ten police officers were on stand-by in the vicinity, observing [proceedings]. However, they did not interfere with the carrying out of the action.
單仲偕 Sihn6 Juhng6 Gāai1 = Sin Chung-kai | ● 權益 kyùhn4 yīk1 = rights and interests | ● 612基金 is short for 612人道支援基金 yàhn4 douh6 jī1 wùhn4 gēi1 gām1 = 612 Humanitarian Relief Fund | ● 捐贈 gyūn1 jahng6 = to contribute (as a gift); to donate | ● 審判 sám2 pun3 = to bring to trial; to try
Chairperson of the Kwai Tsing District Council Sin Chung-kai said that democratic councillors of the District will continue to show concern for the rights and interests of political prisoners in jail in Hong Kong or abroad. Sin also appealed to citizens to donate to the 612 Humanitarian Relief Fund, saying that at present the Fund had only ten and a bit million [Hong Kong] dollars left [in it], and could not necessarily cover [應付] cases the hearing of which had not yet been completed. He called on citizens to actively support the Fund.
● 梁錦威 Lèuhng4 Gám2 Wāi1= Leung Kam Wai (Simon) | ● 日前 yaht6 chìhn4 = a few days ago; the other day | ● 不獲起訴 bāt1 wohk6 héi2 sou3 = cf. 起訴 = to bring an action against sb.; to prosecute | ●「冤枉監」yūn1 wóng2 gāam1 = ? cf. 冤枉 = to treat unjustly
Leung Kam Wai, a Kwai Tsing District councillor, said that many democratic councillors in the Kwai Tsing District had, during the Christmas period [在聖誕節前後], collected comments from residents in Tai Wo Hau, Tsing Yi and Kwai Chung in order to make this “Lennon Banner”, and had put it on display on New Year’s Day. A few days ago, the Twelve Hongkongers had been sentenced by a Mainland court, [but] no action was brought against two of them who are under-aged. Despite this being the case, Leung Kam Wai said, they still had to spend 130 days in “unjust imprisonment” [「冤枉監」] and he appealed to citizens to continue to be concerned about the other ten Hong Kong people [still] in prison on the Mainland. He also added that, if local residents take no interest [in this case], it won’t bear thinking about [難以想像] how they might be treated.
張文龍 Chēung1 Màhn4 Lùhng4 = Cheung Man-lung (Dennis) | ● 與生俱來 yúh5 sāng1 kēui1 lòih4 = to be born with; inherent; innate | ● 處境 chú2 gíng2 = unfavourable situation; plight | ● 剝奪 mōk1 dyuht6 = to deprive; to expropriate; to strip
Cheung Man-lung, another Kwai Tsing District councillor, appealed to the people of Hong Kong to go on showing concern for political prisoners. In Cheung’s opinion, the law-breakers should be the government and not the political prisoners, since the government has not given Hong Kong people their human rights in accordance with the Basic Law. Moreover, the pursuit of democracy and freedom should not be [regarded as] criminal behaviour but as a natural human right. Cheung also expressed the hope that political prisoners might find themselves in a less unfavourable situation in the new year rather than be stripped of their rights.
You could do worse than model your spoken Cantonese on that of 黃之鋒Joshua Wong, 周庭 Agnes Chow and 林朗彥 Ivan Lam featured in this 2-minute video from HK01. Dignified, lucid, restrained, modest and compassionate, such eloquence inspires us with hope even as these speakers face long months in prison . . .
Given the context, much of the difficult vocabulary is legal. Nevertheless, there are some real gems here too: Joshua Wong’s 低谷 dāi1 gūk1 = a low valley; rock bottom; Agnes Chow’s 手足 sáu2 jūk1 = usually “brothers” (but here something like “sisters and brothers coming together for a common cause); and Ivan Lam’s 必要之舉 bīt1 yiu3 jī1 géui2 = (?) a necessary/essential act.
As for grammar points, there is little in what follows that ought to bamboozle you. Watch out for another use of the aspect marker 住 jyuh6 to indicate a persistent after-effect with the verb 意味 yi3 meih6 = “to mean”; one example of the conditional concessive 即使 jīk1 sí2 = “even if”; and, right at the end, the appearance of the directional complement 落去 lohk6 heui3, used with the verb 堅持 gīn1 chìh4 with the more abstract meaning of “to continue doing”.
The captions featured during the video outline the criminal charges faced by the trio. For Wong and Chow, these involve the incitement of others in Admiralty to take part in an illegal assembly and to organize an illegal assembly outside police headquarters. Lam was only charged with the first of these items.
You can view the video here. 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.
You might also like to make use the Ekho Text to Speech Converter if you have trouble matching any part of the transcribed Chinese text to the spoken version. Just make sure you select “Cantonese” under the language menu before you paste cut and text into the relevant box.
黃之鋒：喺警察總部嘅示威案件裏邊呢 | 周庭、林朗彥同埋我黃之鋒 | 我哋都係選擇呢，係去承認所有嘅控罪 | 今日嘅案件呢，係應該會直接跳過審訊階段 | 直接結案陳詞 | 甚至有可能判刑 | 亦都意味住呢，其實我哋三個人呢，係有機會即時還押 | 面對住《國安法》嘅打壓、白色恐怖嘅來臨 | 即使我哋面對住監禁刑期 | 或者我哋有機會係被還押都好 | 我哋都唔會放棄 | 喺咁艱難嘅時候 | 我哋仍然好想呼籲香港人 | 喺呢個低潮或者係一個民族運動嘅低谷裏邊 | 互相嘅扶持係更加可貴
● 承認 sìhng4 yihng6 = to admit; to acknowledge; to recognize | ● 跳過 tiu3 gwo3 = to skip over; to make omissions | ● 審訊 sám2 seun3 = a trial; a courtroom hearing | ● 結案陳詞git3 [ng]on3 chàhn4 chìh4 = closing statement | ● 即時 jīk1 sìh4 = immediately; forthwith | ● 還押 wàahn4 aat3 = to remand (in custody) | ● 監禁刑期 gāam1 gam3 yìhng4 kèih4 = prison term/sentence | ● 低潮 dāi1 chìuh4 = a low tide; an anti-climax; a low point; perhaps also “at a low ebb” | ● 低谷 dāi1 gūk1 = a low valley; rock bottom; perhaps also “trough” (as in “peaks & troughs”)
Joshua Wong: In the case [concerning] the demonstration outside police headquarters, Agnes Chow, Ivan Lam and myself, Joshua Wong, have chosen to plead guilty to all charges. The case today could skip the hearing stage and [move] directly to the closing statement. We could even be sentenced. What this also means is, actually, that for the three of us, there is a chance that we will be immediately remanded in custody. Confronted with the repression of the “National Security Law” and the arrival [來臨] of White Terror, even if we are to face a prison sentence or have the chance of being taken into custody on remand, we will not give up. In this very difficult time, we nevertheless very much wish to appeal to the people of Hong Kong at this low point or “rock bottom” in the democracy movement [to remind them that our] mutual support for one another is especially [更加] precious.
周庭：噉我就同佢哋兩位唔同 | 就喺一個更加早嘅階段就選擇咗認罪 | 而我亦都有可能係喺今日 | 或者喺不久嘅將來 | 係有一個可能性係要面對我人生第一次坐監 | 當然我對好多【1:00】未知嘅未來 | 包括係嚟緊嘅判斷會有好多唔同嘅不安 | 但希望大家唔好忘記就係 | 有好多或者比我哋 | 犧牲嘅更加嘅手足們、朋友們 | 可能佢哋正係面對緊更加困難嘅處境 | 除咗我哋三個之外 | 都要繼續去到聲援同埋關注唔同嘅手足
● 不久嘅將來 bāt1 gáu2 ge3 jēung1 lòih4 = the not too distant future | ● 手足 sáu2 jūk1 = usually “brothers” | ● 處境 chú2 gíng2 = unfavourable situation; plight | ● 聲援 sīng1 wùhn4 = to express support for; to support
Agnes Chow: [In my case] things are a bit different from my two friends here [佢哋兩位]. I chose to plead guilty at an earlier stage, and today or in the not too distant future I may possibly be facing my first ever stint in prison. Of course, there are many kinds of uneasiness for me, faced with a very uncertain future [好多未知嘅未來] including the coming legal sentence, but I hope that everyone will remember that there are many other sisters, brothers and friends who may have made many more sacrifices than us and who may be faced with an even more difficult plight at this moment. Apart from the three of us, there are various other sisters and brothers who one must continue to express support and to show concern for.
林朗彥：我自己，啊，本身都已經做好咗今日有機會係會被還押 | 甚至係即時入獄嘅準備 | 包圍警總到底係一個罪案定係其實係一個我哋伸張正義 | 爭取民族嘅必要之舉 | 我相信喺香港人心裏面已經有一個答案 | 噉我哋係無悔我哋所作嘅抗爭 | 亦都會繼續堅持落去
● 入獄 yaph6 yuhk6 = to be put in prison; to be sent to jail | ● 伸張正義 sān1 jēung1 jing3 yih6 = to uphold/promote justice | ● 必要之舉 bīt1 yiu3 jī1 géui2 = (?) a necessary/essential act | ● 無悔 mòuh4 fui3 = to be without regrets (for sth.)
Ivan Lam: Me, well I’ve already prepared myself for being taken into custody today and even going into prison forthwith. Was encircling [包圍] police headquarters a crime, when all is said and done [底係], or was it actually [a case of] us upholding justice, a necessary act in the fight for democracy? I believe that the people of Hong Kong have the answer to this question in their hearts already. We have no regrets for any of our acts we have carried out as part of our stand and will continue to persevere.
林樂兒 Làhm4 Lohk6 Yìh4，鄧家琪 Dahng6 Gāa1 Kèih4 | 琪 kèih4 = a piece of jade; a jade-like precious stone
楊凱力 Yèuhng4 Hói2 Lihk6
剪接 Film editing：
張偉江 Jēung1 Wáih5 Gōng1