I was now at the head of the queue. I was at a government office, waiting patiently in line to be served. On the tannoy a voice called out a number, and I made my way over to the booth.
Behind the glass sat a middle aged man. His face was well groomed, cleanly shaven and his hair combed to a side parting. He wore dark brown plastic glasses, inexpensive but well cared for. Though the office environment was a controlled temperate, outside it was autumn. He wore a dark grey hooded jumper over an off-white shirt. Indeed, there was much about the man that was autumn: in his age and the slight stoop of his body; in what he wore and the way he wore it; and in the way he moved sheets of paper between a copier and his small desk.
The great leader has fallen. Tanks are on the streets of the capital. A cadre of army officers seize the elderly statesman and demand that he publicly resign and hand over power to their chosen successor. A corrupt administration happily turn, as does his public support. His family have fled the country. Senior members of his government are either already under house arrest or are fleeing. He is handed a script, and television cameras begin to roll.
Whilst the releasing this week of the Paradise Papers has lead to much debate on the legal and ethical issues concerning the operation of offshore financial entities, Evan notes little is written or said about the wider context of the relationship between ethics, law, taxation, sovereignty and the social contract. This, he argues, is what many people find so disconcerting: that the industry exposes an internal contradiction within the foundation of what we have come to accept as a modern and just society.
編按： 本週流出的「天堂文件」引發了諸多爭論，當中主要圍繞離岸金融實體運作的法律和倫理問題。 Evan 指出，關於倫理、法律、稅收、主權和社會契約之間更廣泛的關係，並未有太多的討論。他認為，這些關係是許多人覺得如此令人不安：這個行業暴露出的矛盾，卻是遠超我們所接受的現代公正社會基礎之外。
編按： Evan 認為，在羅哲斯被拒入境時，根據《基本法》林鄭一定已被知會；如果羅哲斯入境確實是外交問題，構成「外交事務」的要素必須要釐清，並理應告知羅哲斯、英國政府和香港人。
Evan argues that in denying Rogers entry, Carrie Lam must have been informed in accordance with the Basic Law; and if his entry was indeed a foreign affair issue, what constitutes “foreign affairs” needs to be defined. Rogers, the British government and the Hong Kong people should be told.
Evan notes the muted response in Hong Kong to the 19th National Congress. He argues that so-called “socialism with Chinese characteristics” is contingent on a people who have no expectation of shaping their own future — people who subconsciously believe in authority rather than representation. He dares us to ask those questions our countrymen dare not.
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.
Evan writes that there is an internal contradiction to the logic of barring Benedict Rogers from Hong Kong, and that the decision itself only adds fuel to the fire of rumours that Beijing is not serious about preserving Hong Kong’s core values.
The late Christopher Hitchens was once asked whether he believed in free will. His reply was classic Hitchens. “Well I have to say yes.”
Sam Harris, a friend of Hitchens, would no doubt have laughed approvingly. Whilst Harris may lack his friend’s witt and encyclodepic knowledge, he does have a focus and a sombriety that does add substance to the argument. His style is simple, engaging and unashamedly popular. What he lacks in detail and supporting argument he makes up with a tight focus on what is relevant to what he is proposing.
Evan looks at the parallels between the Catalan referendum and the 2014 poll, and the following Occupy protests. Whilst he sees many similarities, he stresses that there is a fundamental difference: the relationship of Hong Kong people with our national government is defined by fear. We dare not have a referendum. And our “pragmatism” is not pragmatic, but really a sign of oppression.
編按：Evan 審視加泰羅尼亞公投、香港 2014 年民意調查，以及之後的佔領行動，雖然從中看到很多相似之處，但 Evan 強調兩地人民有根本區別：香港人與政府的關係是由恐懼所決定的，我們因此不敢公投；我們所謂的「實用主義」並不務實，而是真正被壓迫的跡象。
“Where are you from?”
As a Eurasian I am often asked this question. I do not believe it is because I am for any reason particularly noteworthy in either my looks, habits or actions. I’ve tended to be one for blending in to a crowd. I do not stand tall, model-like, proclaiming my desirability with a toothy smile and tight jeans. So it pains me to admit it’s unlikely to be a chat up line.
And the question where I am from is often followed by a guess.