我朋友是五毛黨? — 為什麼香港政治容不下中庸之道? My Friend the 50 cent-er? — Why is There No Place for Moderation in HK Politics?

編按:方禮倫認為今天的香港容不下溫和與克制,這是他的切身之談,也是他一位被污衊為五毛黨的朋友的切膚之痛。他說社會要有對話,必須讓溫和的人有機會發言。但這不太可能,因為我們國家的政治現在是各走極端,而不是為了打開新的局面。在現實生活中,中共就是我們允許聽到的唯一聲音,不會跟我們對話。

Evan argues that Hong Kong today is no place for the moderate, sharing with us his own experiences and that of a friend who has unfairly been called a 50-center. He says that for there to be a discourse, moderates must again find their voice. However, this is unlikely as the push to the extremes is a reflection not of new, but our national politics — in reality the CCP is the only voice that we are allowed to hear, and it does not do dialogue.

【中譯:Ben;英文原文於中文譯文下】Scroll down for original English texts

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讓我先表明立場,也許會讓大家感到意外:

我不支持香港獨立。雖然我參加過遊行,卻不算是社運活躍分子。我從未呼籲過大家上街抗議,也從未協助過別人組織示威。我只是在觀察時局。

我稱不上是激進分子或異見人士。我是讀歷史的,而歷史向來是一門因循守舊的科目。我也對社會改革抱持保守態度,以前讀書時更毫不關心政治。導師會說我是那種「優秀過頭」而惹人討厭的學生,我從來沒被老師罰留堂。我厭惡秩序混亂。

可是,在今天的香港,這個來自建制保守派背景而充滿好奇的年輕人,竟被人視為社運中堅、激進分子及異見人士。只要我張口說句話,動手寫封電郵,就會有人跟我過不去。這和我要說甚麼寫甚麼無關,也與我的口音或要闡述的觀點毫不相干。反正人家判定我的立場,不是看我主張甚麼,而是看我不擁護甚麼。

我說的不是那些天性愛好挑釁的人,而是我所認識的人,那些受過教育、會講道理、人人都覺得是和藹可親的人,一旦提起任何稍帶有政治意味的話題,都會怪責是我不對。

「別怪 Evan,他是那種熱衷政治的年輕學生。」最近,一個朋友在一堆相識已久的泛泛之交中拍胸口說,好像要為我的人品寫包單。表面上大家都原諒了我,接納我進入這個朋友圈。然而,從他們的目光和接下來的沉默,我感到的是另外一回事。

還有今年較早前出現過的經典對白:當我問一位遠房親戚,她對我當時的未婚妻 Jennifer 有甚麼看法,她說:

「對 Jennifer 我從來沒有半點疑慮,她性格溫柔,又有教養。倒是你惹我擔心。甚麼激進抗議,政治活動,你都插上一腳。」

而她知道的,不過是警方向人群投擲催淚彈那個星期日,我身在佔中現場,還有就是我在寫有關香港的事情。她不知道我從來沒參加過任何政黨或組織,也不知道我參加佔中是有家人支持的。她也不知道那嫁了給我的妻子曾替某政黨工作,現在仍然有份參與——不過她還是不知道的好。

某些支持建制的死硬派藍帶人士,都有個特徵,就是迅速判斷、馬上譴責。她不想知道事實,也不想讓她的偏見受到質疑。不用說,她從來沒讀過一篇我寫的東西。但問題是她根本不想讀。我竟會有跟她不同的意見,這本身就已頂撞了她。

針對我的偏見之中,也許最令人失望的,是出自那些真心誠意想幫我一把的人。舉個例,本港有位編輯,三年來一直把我稱為充滿理想的活躍分子,或把我比作上世紀初「青年土耳其黨黨員」,我試過糾正他不下十多次,也無濟於事。

拿我跟那些響應現代土耳其國父號召,為理想而不惜進行激烈革命的年輕暴徒相比,可不是恭維,而且我也不想和活躍分子這字眼扯上關係。不過,我倒不認為那些從事社會運動的人有甚麼不妥,其實我有很多好友都積極參與社運,香港也因他們的努力而變得更好,但我自問不是這種人。

現在人們輕易把一個人的政治取向,先入為主地視為不是這極端,就是那極端。這情況不光發生在我身上,或在那些與我同聲同氣的人身上。我一位任職大學教授的好朋友,不久將負責高層行政職務,他也得面對那些攻擊他的幼稚偏見,因為他雖不是親建制派,但對泛民人士的行徑深感懷疑,對他們也時有微詞。

我朋友是個深思熟慮、愛講道理的人。他批評泛民不是由於不滿他們所追求的理想——就像我認識的所有人,如果能夠自由選擇的話,都願意看到一個真正民主的中國。他只是覺得那些聲稱代表如此崇高理想的人,做不到他心中期望的地步。他可不是無的放矢,因為他發現民主派有些奇怪舉動,有時會激起不必要的對抗,而最差的時候更是虛偽的表現。政壇上有些資深民主派人士,為了與年輕人的運動「並肩前進」,反而使別人對他們的尊重及對他們言行的期待,大不如前,他們沒料到支持他們的人因此大為減少。

我朋友像我一樣,擔心支持本土勢力及本土運動的情緒上升。諷刺的是,這些人拒絕了北京官方所定的中國人身份,卻創造了一個同樣排外、同樣具有種族色彩、同樣不能容忍異己的香港人身份。我和朋友不同的只在於批評到甚麼地步。我相信要由政府和親建制團體,由這些擁有權力的人,來樹立榜樣,而我的朋友卻不願意漠視那些仍處於社會邊緣的人,不肯對他們故意挑釁的種種行為視而不見。

不過,我朋友在香港一家著名新聞網站留下的每一則評論,都會引來連串謾罵。他的觀點也和我的一樣,從來沒有人肯正面回應。人們指控他要麼是按照自動程式反應的機器人,要麼是沒有自己良心的五毛黨,只知人云亦云。

我看過我朋友寫的很多帖子,即使我不同意他的所有觀點,但都闡述得有條有理。可是,我從來沒看過那些強烈譴責他的人,試過辯駁他的論點。問題就在這裡:他們反對的不是他的論據,而是不滿他批評了他們的信仰;他的理智侮辱了他們的情緒。

我和朋友一有機會就見面,我喜歡跟他一起,聽他談話。我們可能抱持不同的政見,大家一致認同的細節也沒有多少。但我們把分歧拿出來討論,提出彼此的想法,使之接受合乎情理的批評,正是這樣,我們的想法才會更有價值,才能讓我們更完整地闡述自己的觀點。我們也可藉著討論,調和相反的意見,即使不能,也至少對彼此的立場更加理解,更加欣賞。

我和朋友的共通之處,在於大家本是不愛走極端的人,都喜歡溫和克制地討論政治。我們都是在香港長大的孩子,雖然他年紀或比我稍大,但昔日把我們教養成人的政治環境,跟今天這種迥然不同。我們對政治以及對奉獻其一生建立公民社會的人發自內心的尊重,我們對討論問題的應有方式,對參與政治遊戲的應有態度,都可說非常具有英國色彩,儘管我朋友可能不希望我這樣說。

我們都覺得號召獨立,主張分裂的做法是愚蠢的,這不是因為香港是中國不可分割的一部分,而是因為這樣的呼籲只會惹惱北京,而香港要有前途最好是別把北京惹火。不過,雖然人們把他視為親建制派,他卻不認為談論獨立或分裂是非法的,也不認為要剝奪學生和港人的機會,不讓他們討論這想法。

同樣,我們不認為學生領袖是政治犯,也不認為身為公民抗命的領袖,就得欣然接受法院的兩次裁決。雖然沒有跡象表示司法機構的獨立已受損害,但我們都看到政府在考驗法治,而袁國強推翻了檢控人員的建議,堅持覆核案件,就是一項明顯的政治行動。

我們一致譴責何君堯最近發表的「殺無赦」言論。誰都不應只因為有人考慮讓未來的香港與中國分開,而宣揚殺人有理的,竟是個在建制中身居要職的律師。不管政治立場如何,我們都譴責那些要為這些言論辯護的人。

為什麼別人對我及對我朋友,會這樣妄下判斷?我想是因為今天大家判斷他人的標準,往往不是依據其所言所行、所思或所代表的事物,而是依據其所不是、所不為的事情。評判一個人,不再看他是甚麼人,而是看他不是甚麼人。今天,要是你不同意我的意見,你幾乎可以聽到:「去死吧,這不是你的地方!」那麼多的眼睛,都在告訴我這種反應。

最近,一位歐亞籍遠親去了賽馬會的跑馬地會所,有個會員竟上前當面質問他:「你們這些人還來這裡幹嘛,這裡是中國。」換了是我受這樣的委屈,會很傷心。我是後來才知道這件事,有人叫我不該這樣「政治化」,因為這裡現在的而且確是中國的地方。發生過的,沒什麼好說,都是順理成章的。我對時局的敏銳感受,本是我人性的表現,但在這個扭曲的城市,反使我看似毫不理智地變得政治化。

麻煩不僅在於政治分歧的雙方,都有些偏狹而激進的分子,阻礙了任何有意義的對話。常遭人忽視的,反而是我們國家的政府,也來玩這一套政治把戲。我那位遠房親戚是個事業有成的人,他說身在香港,就像在大陸一樣,你只得肉隨砧板上。他一家幾代人都學懂了這樣的生存之道:只要繼續有生意做,就不太理會其他人,也不太關心政治。我尊重他,這可能是他的本性,也是他的選擇。但對我來說,這不是正確的選擇。

林鄭月娥和我們的政府,光是口頭上說和解,是很容易的。但要真正和解,就需要回歸溫和,更重要的是重建真誠的政治對話。可是,一黨統治最不想見到的就是對話。

我的朋友被誣蔑為五毛黨,最能說明這點。我們的國家設法在網絡上操縱輿論,不僅發放假消息,更在世界各地的評論網頁上,按中共制定的標準,叫大家謾罵那些反華的人,吹捧那些愛國的人。這種荒謬政策表明我們被允許承認的唯一政黨及唯一政府中共,絕對不容異己。中共說得很清楚,你有權選擇:要麼支持我,要麼反對我。

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Let me begin with a clarification, that may well come as a surprise:

I do not support the idea of Hong Kong independence. Neither do I consider myself an activist, as though I have attended protests, I have neither ever advocated nor assisted in organising one. I am an observer.

Neither do I have any credentials as a radical or dissenter. I read history, a traditionally conservative subject. I am also a social conservative, and was a politically apathetic student. As my tutor would have put it, I was that annoying student who was “too good by half.” Never once have I received a detention. I detest an absence of order.

Yet today in Hong Kong a once curious young man from an establishment background is presumed an activist, a radical, and a dissident. I cannot so much as open my mouth or pen an email without certain people taking exception. This has nothing to do with what it is I have to say or write, or my pronunciation or how I elucidate my point. All too often my position is judged not on what it is but what it is not.

I am not referring to those who are provocateurs by nature. People I know, educated, reasonable and by all other accounts amiable, will on the mere mention of any subject vaguely political point the accusatory finger.

“Please forgive Evan, he’s one of these young political student types.” And so recently a friend vouched for my character among acquaintances I had known almost all my life. I was outwardly forgiven and allowed to join the circle. However the eyes and the following silence suggested otherwise.

Then there was this classic I was told earlier this year by a distant relative when I asked her of her opinion of my then fiancé:

“I’ve never had any doubt about Jennifer. She’s such a sweet girl, and well mannered. It is you I’m not so sure about. All this radical protesting and politics you go in for.”

All she knew was that I was at Occupy Central on the Sunday when the police shot tear gas into the crowd, and that I write on Hong Kong. She did not know I am and have never been a member of any political party or association, and that I was at Occupy with the support from my family. She also did not know, and continues to be blissfully unaware that my now wife once worked for a political party, with which she is still involved.

This is a common trait among certain die-hard blue ribbon, pro-establishment figures. Quick to judge and condemn, she does not want to know nor have her prejudice challenged. Needless to say, she has never read anything I have actually written. But the real point is that neither does she want to. That I have an opinion that differs from hers is in itself considered rude.

Perhaps the most disappointing prejudice directed at me is that from people who are genuinely and sincerely trying to do me a good turn. There is a local editor, for example, who for three years now insists on introducing me as an idealistic activist, or as the “Young Turk.” I have attempted to correct him at least a dozen times, to no avail.

To be compared to Ataturk’s idealistic young thugs is not complimentary, and neither I must say is the word activist one with which I would like to be associated. I see nothing wrong in those who are activists — indeed, many of my good friends are, and Hong Kong is better for them — but it is just not who I am.

This ease at which we now prejudge a person’s politics as extreme is not unique to me, nor to those who share my sympathies. A good friend, a university professor who will shortly be taking up a senior administrative position, faces prejudice as puerile and abusive for his views that, whilst not pro-establishment, are deeply suspicious and critical of the pan-democrats.

My friend is a deeply thoughtful and reasonable man. His criticism stems not from a dislike for the pan-democratic cause — like everyone I know if given the freedom to choose he would prefer to see a more genuinely democratic China — but because he expects better from those who claim to represent such a high ideal. Not without reason he finds the antics of the democratic camp to be at times unnecessarily confrontational and at worst hypocritical. In the way some of our more senior democratic politicians were seeking to be “relevant” to the youth movement, they have allowed standards of respect and behaviour slip and have alienated more of their natural support than they realise.

Like me, my friend is worried by the rise in nativist and localist sentiment. Ironically, in rejecting an official Chinese identity as defined by Beijing, they have created an equally exclusive, racial and intolerant local identity of their own. Where we differ is in our degree of criticism. Whilst I believe it is for the government and pro-establishment groups — for those with power — to set the example, my friend is less willing to turn a blind eye to the deliberately provocative actions of what remains a fringe element.

However, every comment my friend leaves online on a prominent Hong Kong news site is greeted with a flurry of abuse. As with me, his points are never addressed. He is accused of either being a bot or a 50 cent-er — either a mindless programmed response or a mindless man without conscience.

I have read many of the posts my friend has written. They all make well-articulated points, even if I do not agree with them all. But never once have I seen any attempt by those who condemn him so vehemently attempt to address his argument. This is the point: it is not his argument with which they take issue, but his criticism of their beliefs; his reasoning is an affront to their emotions.

My friend and I meet when we can, and I enjoy his conversation and company. We may not share the same politics, nor is there much in the details do we agree. But it is by discussing our differences, by putting our ideas to the challenge of reasoned criticism that they may gain value and we may develop more complete views of our own. It is also through discussion that we might reconcile opposing views, and if not, at least have a better understanding and appreciation of each other’s position.

What I and my friend have in common is that we are essentially moderate people of moderate politics. We are both children of Hong Kong, and though he may be a little older than me, we were both raised to a very different kind of politics that we find today. We are, though he would probably not wish me to say this, very British in the instinctive respect we have for politics and those who dedicate their lives to shaping civil society; in the manner in which we believe problems ought to be discussed; and in the manner the game of politics should be played.

We both feel calls for separatism are silly, not because Hong Kong is an inalienable part of China, but because such calls will only stoke anger in Beijing — anger Hong Kong could well do without. However, though he is identified as pro-establishment, he does not believe talking about separatism is illegal nor that students and the people of Hong Kong should be denied the opportunity to discuss it as an idea.

Likewise, we do not consider the students leaders to be political prisoners, and as leaders of an act of civil disobedience they should have accepted their courts ruling — both rulings — with more grace. There is no sign that the independence of the judiciary has been compromised, yet we both see that rule for law is being tested by our government in the obviously political action that Rimsky Yuen took to go against his own counsels advice to reopen the case.

And we both condemn the recent statements made by Junius Ho. No person, let alone a lawyer and a man of his position in the establishment, should advocate the killing of people for merely considering a future for this city separate from the PRC. Regardless of politics, we both condemn those who would try to defend these statements.

The reason my friend and I are so misjudged is because too often today are judgments made not on what you say, think, do or represent, but what you do not. One is no longer judged on who you are but who you are not — and if you are not of my opinion, you can almost hear it now said, “Hell to you and your lot, there is no place for you here.” That’s what those so many eyes have told me.

Recently, a distant relative and Eurasian, was approached by another member whilst at the Jockey Club in Happy Valley. He was told, to his face, “There is no place for you people here now. This is China.” The experience would have hurt me deeply. Instead, I came to know of it when being told that I should not be so “political” as this is indeed China now. There was nothing to be said of what happened. It was reasonable. My sensitivity, rather than a sign of my humanity, has in this distorted city made me unreasonably political.

The trouble is not just that of the illiberal and radical fringes on both sides of the political divide that today prevents there from being any meaningful discourse. What is often ignored is that this is also the politics of our national government. What my distant relative, a successful man, meant was that in Hong Kong, as on the Mainland, you just let things be. Like generations of his family, he has learned not to really care about people or politics as long as the business keeps coming. I respect that this may be in his nature, and that this is his choice. But it is not the right choice for me.

It is easy for Carrie Lam and our government to talk about reconciliation, but for that to really happen we need a return to moderation and, more importantly, to there being genuine political dialogue. This will not happen as dialogue is anathema to a single-party rule.

This could not be better illustrated by the accusation levelled at my friend, that he is a 50 cent-er. It is our nation that attempts to manipulate public opinion online on any issues by using not only fake news, but on commentary pages the world over with fake abuse and fake support for what the CCP decides is in favour or against China. This outrageous policy is indicative of the intolerance of the CCP, the only party and the only government we are really allowed to recognise. It says, quite clearly, you have a choice: you are either with us or against us.

(Photo: Flickr: ikuka org)

Respond to 我朋友是五毛黨? — 為什麼香港政治容不下中庸之道? My Friend the 50 cent-er? — Why is There No Place for Moderation in HK Politics?

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