The ‘Day of the Locusts’
There was a collective jaw-drop when Beijing University professor Kong Qingdong gave his ‘dog speech’ a few weeks back, yet a week later, more jawbones hit the floor after seeing a full-page ad in a daily newspaper with a giant locust coveting our city, accompanied by scary statistics and warnings. Has war been declared?
What’s most unexpected is that the locust ad was immediately lifted from Apple Daily and ‘reinterpreted’ by Mainland provinces into their own versions (many of them witty) criticising migrant workers and corrupt officials. It was a neat twist to a Mainland response which many in Hong Kong expected to be ultra-furious.
The group that sponsored the locust ad have ‘had enough’ of Mainland students stealing our education resources, of their parents robbing our hospital resources, of their tourists polluting our holy soil and their money-splashers heating up our property market. This is understandable in a city where most people can’t afford their own shelter, and where the government is powerless against tycoon pressure (and helpless in improving its social and population policy). It’s only natural that Mainland people would become a scapegoat for all the sins of our system, and an easy target for the far right to vent their anger. So far, the ‘sunset’ government has wisely kept its head down – and why not? Nobody even cares about its many faults any more.
Yet isn’t it the government which has cut land supply, stopped the construction of affordable housing estates, and failed to intervene in the property market just because this city is the ‘freest economy in the world’ (the freest economy that bounds many of its ‘beneficiaries’ in ‘cage-houses’ and subdivision-housing blocks)? And isn’t it the government, with its huge surplus from selling land to the big sharks that refuses to improve our social welfare and hospital system? Isn’t it the government that doesn’t dare raise the topic of amending the Basic Law in the face of Beijing?
From the 1980s till now, there have been around a million immigrants arriving in Hong Kong. They are seen as outsiders and problem-makers. The moment they cross the border, they are forced to admit their second-class citizenship, and they are forced to ‘civilise’ themselves into noble Hongkongers. But in a city where freedom of speech is laudably respected, their voices have been ignored by the mainstream media.
Let’s not forget: Mainland students pay tens of thousands of dollars a year to Hong Kong’s universities, and Mainland employees pay tax. These taxes go into the city’s resources. Yet when they were excluded from the $6,000 handout, did they scream ‘Hongkongers stole my money!’? Yet now we blame them for stealing our resources. Should they be grateful they are allowed here in the first place? Or do we even care about their existence? Charlotte Fan