Happy 4th of July to all my American compatriate expatriots and more. I am still fresh off the plane from my very brief trip to the US and regretting that I am not now tending to a bbq grill and preparing to enjoy the annual Macy’s fireworks show – whether in person or on tv. There is something about this holiday that makes me feel som nostalgia, especially as it reminds me of my short months before I finally departed for Hong Kong upon deciding in late May that I was going to take this leap.
Just a few days back, when I was still Stateside, Hong Kong celebrated, or perhaps bemoaned, HKSAR Establishment Day on July 1. It is the 15th anniversary since the handover in 1997.
Each year on July 1, thousands of Hong Kongers get out in the summer heat to protest the handover. This year was no exception and apparently the numbers ranged from 100-120,000, one of the biggest turnouts ever, if not the biggest. Chinese President Hu Jintao came in town to swear in Hong Kong Chief Executive-Elect Leung Chun-ying, whom most Hong Kongers, it appears, does not trust to uphold the interests of the SAR.
He’s a 57-year old self-made millionaire who was elected in March’s contest primarily by pro-Establishment party members (there is no universal suffrage in Hong Kong, and I’m still confused as to how voting works). He’s also already been plagued with a scandal concerning an illegal structure at his house up on The Peak, which he has flip-flopped about as to his knowledge of it being illegal or being responsible for building it. While it may seem the construction of a glass patio-cover is no big deal, it sure is to Hong Kongers, who 1) must adhere to incredibly strict buildings laws, and 2) cannot stand corrupt politicians who get to get away with nought while the people are typically under attack.
Needless to say, once the illegal structure was exposed, CY Leung had it removed and he has also stressed that he won’t be an insta-Beijing sympathizer. But does anyone believe this is enough? Clearly not.
I’ll have to witness the madness that is the July 1 protests some day, though I can tick off witnessing the June 4 candle-lit memorial as of this year. More on that in a post coming soon.