A lot of talk in Singapore about the Hong Kong protests in the past 21 weeks have been conducted in English because it is the lingua franca of this country.
These talk range from erudite think pieces that try to contextualise a highly dynamic people movement that has exploded in paroxysms of violence, to dime-a-dozen comments -- mostly ill-considered and largely shoot from the hip, fleeting yelps on social media -- that add nothing more to the understanding of what is going on.
But are there any other discussions emanating from Singapore that is taking place outside this English language-dominated sphere, which has caused some ripples?
Well, yes actually.
Facebook post in Chinese about HK protests explodes
A recent Oct. 10 Facebook post written in Chinese by a Singapore-focused Facebook page has attracted much attention.Was it for or against the Hong Kong protests?
In this case, the post is a scathing commentary about the protests and the protesters, as the piece made use of inflammatory and provocative language.
The post is by the Perspectives Singapore (Tou Shi Shi Cheng, 透视狮城) Facebook page, which essentially called the protesters names, such as "cockroaches" — a term used by both the Hong Kong police and Chinese state media.
The post, which questioned the protesters' motives and logic, stands out mostly because this Facebook page does not engage in full-on commentary often.
And it mostly covers lifestyle-related news, while occasionally commenting on current affairs.
In case you can't see the post:
As of Oct. 28, it has some 7,300 reactions and close to 5,000 shares.
What did the post say?
The widely-shared post started off by addressing the protesters in a less-than-friendly tone, saying: "This is why you can't get my respect."
The author of the post is not identified.
The post then launched into a tirade about how senseless the protests are, and listed, point by point, what the author thinks is wrong with the movement.
Despite Simplified Chinese being commonly used in Singapore, the post was written entirely in Traditional Chinese, which can be taken to mean it is targeted at Hong Kong readers.
Here's part of the post, roughly translated:
Why hide your faces behind masks?
"You've hidden your identities, yet still blame others for disguising as you, and using you as a scapegoat.
Doesn't this just prove your ignorance? Didn't you say that you're prepared to sacrifice your lives in order to fight for democracy? Since you're not even afraid of death, why are you still scared of others identifying you?
China's July Fourth Tiananmen Square protests, Taiwan's Sunflower Movement, Frances' yellow vests movement. All these protesters dare to fight openly for what they see as a noble ideal. They are not like you guys, not daring to show your faces. I can only say that you are a selfish brat who does not dare to own up to your deeds."
Why do you blame the MTR for simply protecting its property?
"You obstruct MTR operations, and destroy its facilities. MTR Corporation, in order to secure the safety of its own property, requested for help from the police. How is this wrong? If a bad person breaks into your house and destroys it, wouldn't you call the police to ask them to chase the bad guys away, and protect your possessions? So why are you blaming the MTR?"
Tributes continue to be laid out daily at Prince Edward MTR, where baton-wielding police stormed carriages in August deploying pepper spray & making arrests. #hongkong #hongkongprotests #antiELAB pic.twitter.com/3K7X8GY2NG— Hong Kong Free Press HKFP (@hkfp) October 10, 2019
At the Prince Edward Station memorial for the *rumored* murder of a protester by the police. I saw a middle-aged man sob in front of the flowers while a young woman he didn’t know comforted him. Many are still placing flowers. Police tore down this memorial yesterday. pic.twitter.com/xVi43IcGCn— Laurel Chor (@laurelchor) September 7, 2019
You fight for "democracy" but you don't respect the rights of others.
"You disrupt the public transport system, yet still proclaim that you're fighting for Hong Kong's democracy. Do you know just how much you've affected the lives of others? You don't even have the basic respect for others' rights, what do you know about democracy? Count me out of the sort of "democracy" you're fighting for."
Why do you wave the flag of your former colonial master?
"What's worse, you want to protest, fine. But what's with the waving of the colonial flag, the Union Jack flag, and the American flag? You've even held up placards that read "Trump, Free Hong Kong". You're not capable of achieving the things you want by yourselves, and so, you went to seek the help of your Western masters. Doesn't this just show your slave-like behaviour? After you were laughed out, you switched to a United Nations flag, do you have a brain or not?"
What are you fighting for exactly now that the extradition bill has been withdrawn?
"I don't even know what you guys are fighting for exactly? The extradition bill has already been withdrawn. So are you fighting for democracy or human rights? Is it "anti-extradition to the mainland", or "anti-mainland"? Is the protest against the widening rich-poor gap, or against the black police? It seems like the protests are about everything, yet at the same time, about nothing."
How do you expect others to negotiate with you if you already refer to your "demands" as "demands"?
"Your 'five demands, not one less' are basically 'commands', and not 'compromises'. You've already said that you can't give any of the demands up, so how do you expect others to negotiate with you?"
Do you even understand the things you're shouting?
"This proves that your Chinese ability is too weak. No wonder you shout such a meaningless slogan as 'Reclaim Hong Kong, Revolution of Our Times'. You can't even understand what 'reclaim' means, and how can 'time' go through a revolution?
The slogan 'Hong Kong independence' is even more comical. You don't even have your own army, nor your own water and electricity supply, how can you be independent?"
You should be prepared to shed blood in a revolution, so why blame the police for whacking you?
"Democracy has always been a luxury. Civil rights will not just fall by itself from the sky. It's built up, bit by bit. If you want to fight for it, there are just two paths to take: Either reform the system from the inside, or launch a revolution on the outside.
Both paths require sacrifices to be made, you think this is child's play? There's no need to shed blood in a revolution?
If you want to go through a revolution, you will definitely have to be beaten up by the police. Even if you pay with your life, it's something to be expected. But you're now accusing them of being black police? What are you whining about? Why do you cry when you're being roughed up? Isn't this what you chose for yourself?"
You're all mindless roaches
"People like you who only wish to receive and not sacrifice anything, who whine about getting divorced if you don't get what you want, who wants to protest on the streets, but yet hide who you are, who would selfishly rather destroy others' property, instead of going on hunger strikes, who cries to your American masters like slaves, I simply can't see the kind of noble ideals you're chasing after.
You will never be able to get my respect. No wonder there are now more and more people who think that you are just a bunch of disgusting, mindless roaches."
In which a Hong Kong police officer points at elderly citizens (members of a volunteer group called "Protect the Children)" with his baton and calls them cockroaches. (8 September, Mong Kok. Via HKU Campus TV) https://t.co/uq2HZmXNvf pic.twitter.com/hjflD6IcrH— Mary Hui (@maryhui) September 9, 2019
A police spokesperson has acknowledged that some officers have called protesters "cockroaches", but said the use of the term is "not ideal".
The controversial post triggered plenty of responses from commenters online, both from the pro-Beijing and pro-democracy camps.
Great piece of commentary
"Hey The Old Hong Kong, learn from this writer! Every sentence is gold, and each word is on point! Don't spread those useless essays that don't mean anything! If you're capable of writing such an essay, don't forget to let me know!"
But there appears to be way more commenters who disagreed with the claims made in the post, as compared to those who agreed with what the post was saying.
Singapore really does belong to China after all
Several online commenters made fun of the pro-Beijing stance that the post adopted, sarcastically declaring Singapore to be a part of China.
"Singapore belongs to China!"
Reply: Malaysia also belongs to China!
"I wish Singapore returns to the People's Republic of China!"
"Hopefully Singapore replaces Hong Kong, and become China's new son."
"Go Singapore province (of China)."
"Congrats to Singapore becoming a Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China."
You don't understand the situation well enough
There were also a fair number of online commenters who opined that the writer did not fully understand the political situation in Hong Kong, nor did he or she attempt to understand it.
"(The writer) does not even know why protesters choose to mask their faces,so he does not have the right to discuss about the situation. Because he doesn't even get the most basic facts about the movement.
The only thing these people are clear about is: I just want to speak in support of my own stance, and will not verify my beliefs."
"This proves that the one writing this post does not fully understand the situation in Hong Kong."
"Some things have been repeated over and over again for the last four months. Please do your research first."
"Understand Hong Kong first before you comment, okay? Does anyone really think that foreigners understand what's happening in Hong Kong better than the locals themselves?"
Many of them also said they do not expect outsiders like Singaporeans, who live in a sovereign state and who are used to a different set of political values, to understand, or even empathise with them.
"Southeast Asia's media is still the most objective."
Reply: "Yes, eunuchs are the best at teaching you how to have sex."
Reply: "I'll let you in on a joke, the people living under a dictatorship where the government even arrests children for criticising them know the best about democracy."
We don't need no respect from you
Some of them also said they do not need respect from "outsiders" to continue what they have been doing all this while.
"To the bystander that is Malaysia, why do I need your respect? In the above thousand-word text, the first sentence was already problematic (referring to the writer saying the protesters are not getting his respect). The end."
"As to why a dictatorship doesn't support the protest movement in Hong Kong, Hongkongers understand that rather well. At the same time, we don't give a damn."
"Whether you respect them or not, it's your choice. As long as Hongkongers themselves know what they are fighting for, it's good. After all, it has already been four months."
Let us tell you how we feel
But there were at least a few commenters who took the time to try to bridge the gap between how Hongkongers feel and what Singaporeans know, explaining a piece of life in Hong Kong to any Singaporean out there who's willing to listen.
"There were indeed some people who used horrible methods to fight for the demands, but I believe that it's just a minority group that's doing so. There were initially two million people who marched on the streets to fight for democratic rights, and this minority group cannot represent the entire group, and cause everyone else to be labelled as rioters! Freedom, democracy, equality. Values that Hongkongers deserve to have, go Hongkongers."
You need to understand these two concepts:
1. (Police) taking revenge afterwards, giving you groundless charges
2. One country, two systems, Hong Kong people ruling themselves, high degree of autonomy
We are only fighting to safeguard what we deserve, and what belongs to us, nothing more than that.
Boomers and young people reacted and shared the post
In case there is any doubt regarding the popularity of the post, one only needs to look through the list of Facebook users who reacted and shared it.
They range from those who are baby boomers to younger individuals who reacted positively to it, as well as shared it without comment or other added context.
More on Hong Kong:
Top image adapted via Anthony Kwan/Getty Image & Xinhua Hong Kong/FB
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