Pet Sounds: Englebert Tse

Pet Sounds: A series in which teaching staff and students from the English Department reflect on a piece of music or song. [Read all entries.] [Revisit the “Headspace” series.] [Revisit the “Ongoing” series.] [Revisit the “Interrogative” series.]


On Friday 14 July 2017, four more pro-democracy lawmakers—‘Long Hair’ Leung Kwok-hung, Nathan Law Kwun-chung, Edward Yiu Chung-yim and Lau Siu-lai—were removed from the Legco over their ‘improper’ oath-taking, following last year’s dismissal of Yau Wai-ching and Sixtus ‘Baggio’ Leung Chung-hang.

I started writing this piece that day, when I was standing in the crowd in a hurriedly organised assembly outside the Legislative Council, but I haven’t edited it until now, a few weeks later. I thought I could finish this piece in tranquility but no, I am instead writing it in rage, angry at the absurdity of it all, and angry for the seeming nonchalance of some people in the city in face of the collapse of a democratic system.

To be honest, there were far fewer people than I expected at the assembly in support of the ousted lawmakers. I was hoping that more people would be outraged by the court’s reinterpretation of the Basic Law concerning oath-taking.

Perhaps many Hongkongers are hypocrites. On the one hand, they know well when and how to complain as a customer and fight vigorously against any subjective injustice that threatens their interests. On the other hand, they are silent about Chinese authoritarianism abusing the autonomy of Hong Kong—as though this is not an issue at all, or it never happens.

Here, then, is a song to those who pretend to be asleep,《給睡了的人》. Released in 2012, it was written by the indie singer-songwriter Serrini. It depicts the apathy of the general public towards the proposed ‘brain-washing’ national education curriculum, and it calls for Hongkongers to wake up, pay attention, and bravely voice their discontent, instead of allowing those in power to take away what matters to them bit by bit.

拿出勇氣去表達你看到的真相 不再躲於暗處馴服
Revolt and unveil the truth you behold
Justice is never served as a one-man show
The direction our society can go
Depending on the dedication we hold

It has already been two weeks since the removal of the four lawmakers, and it seems that the (Chinese) government does not plan to give the pro-democratic camp any breathing space. The latest appointment of the clearly pro-Beijing school principal Christine Choi Yuk-lin as the education undersecretary, in my opinion, may lead to the reboot of the national education scheme. In the midst of a hurricane, some people are able to still indifferently turn a blind eye to what is happening around them. But I hope they understand that trouble will look for them someday. None of us could survive this.

This “Pet Sounds” piece, one day, may serve as evidence to prove my guilt as a dissenter to China.


Englebert.jpgEnglebert Tse is an MALCS (MA in Literary and Comparative Studies) graduate (Class of 2017) at the Department of English. He was also the President of Enamor – HKBU English Language and Literature Society 1617. [Read all entries by Englebert here.]

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