Save our memories, say no to redacted history | Au Ka-lun

2021.05.07

“Who controls the past controls the future. Who controls the present controls the past.” In a Hong Kong that can be likened to the state fabricated in 1984 by George Orwell, not only has the depiction by the author been known to every family and household, but also it has become the guiding principles for the SAR government to administer Hong Kong.

Carrie Lam Cheng Yuent-ngor has iterated there are a lot for the government to “perfect”, including education, the media, cultivation and training of civil servants. To put it bluntly, this is a huge project to remodel the history and memories

To plant the new history and memories into the society, they target the work on children’s heads. Firstly, their independent thinking is to be wiped out. To this end, Liberal Studies has to be annihilated, followed by instilling national education from the ground up, bringing students to the motherland for academic exchange, training them as worshipers of infrastructure, and teaching them to be awed and moved. Though civil servants are adults and so it is not easy to get them brainwashed, it is necessary to educate them about the fact the rules in the new era such as “ending something equivalent to perfecting something” and “being ignorant tantamount to being powerful” are Big Brother’s normal order of things, embrace the northerly wind, and scrutinize how excited a civil servant is when chanting “the Basic Law is superb”.

According to the teaching of grandmaster Lenin, media outlets run by the party is the one and only way. Though it takes time to make Hong Kong a communist city, it can be expected soon. The slow-witted and obstinate ones left can be dealt with by means of activating the draconian law passed down from the colonial era - inciting others to incite more people to create a public nuisance, or suppressed with the National Security Law or a newly enacted anti-fake news act, or managed by a newly established Ministry of Truth.

For one thing, the executioner responsible for slaughtering RTHK is killing off programs that are not in tune and embedding contents only official mouthpieces would deliver; for another, he has given an order to trash the inventory of images on YouTube so as to weed out the history and memories. A spokesperson of RTHK said the new course of action is in line with the standard practice of the broadcaster’s official website to reserve any content for 12 months for replay, which is a lie told through their teeth. Programs saved on RTHK’s

website for replay has something to do only with its server’s capacity and public treasury, but being saved on YouTube, they do not consume the coffers of the city, nor are they subject to server’s capacity. Besides, they can even create one more stream of income, as well as expanding its viewership. Take Hong Kong Connection’s 7.21 Who Owns the Truth as an example. There are already 1.5 million clicks recorded only on the official channel on YouTube. A public broadcaster being able to get in touch with more viewers from the public, which has every advantage and no drawback, should be celebrated and attentively and diligently run. The programs are assets owned by Hong Kong people, but private property of the mediocre functionaries.

The only reason for the inventory of programs trashed, outstanding works restrained from taking part in exhibitions and awards for excellent works declined is that memories have to be wiped out from stem to stern; events that embarrass bigwigs have to be censored; no historical record is allowed.

Some might say education is to instill dos and don’ts in students, and brainwash them, so what’s wrong with it? Some might say the job of editing is to cull the appropriate from works available, and do the censorship, and it is the same everywhere. These people’s minds are so confused. Being different from education, brainwashing prevents students from making intellectual enquiries, and allows of only standard answers to questions; being divergent from news editing, news censorship does not prioritize professional criteria, and is conducted pursuant to criteria set by the master.

Memories are to be removed, followed by virtues and achievements eulogized. This year, the candlelight in Victoria Park is to be erased, and yelling out the slogan “End the one-party dictatorship” is probably an offence as the occasion demands. There is no more Mr Democracy in the May Fourth spirit, which has been turned into concern for national security. Since it was face-lifted, RTHK has been airing a new program titled The Century-Long March celebrating the continuation of the Chinese Communist Party regime in an attempt to control the past. The project to reshape memories has been rolled out in its entirety.

Save your heads before everything

During a hard time, how an individual withstands strikes by mighty torrents hinges on one’s position. Still in office in any institution and establishment, one can feign compliance, or cheat under cover of a diversion. Proactively working in concert with silly measures forced through by the master, one can help him/her shoot himself/herself in his/her foot.

On personal level, everyone had better save their heads before everything: telling truth from lies and right from wrong, the merits that used to be praised by Liberal Studies in secondary education. Everyone is able to study them on their own; the knowledgeable are able to teach them pro bono in the civil society. Propitiously, everyone is able to save their memories. News is first drafts of history. A decision to remember them is just a split-second idea away from one to forget them. Removing programs saved for replay online in such a rude and unreasonable manner, RTHK has prompted netizens to save the memories in an all-round manner so that they are to be replayed ten or even a hundred times more than they used to be, and more widely circulated. Please keep on deleting them until Hong Kong Connection becomes a fable, and programs by RTHK a legend and a stronghold of memories for freedom of Hong Kong people.

Saving the memories for freedom is not only about dignity and principles, but also it has substantial effect. Looking back on the world-shaking event Eastern Europe experienced 30 years ago, one will find some nations such as Czechoslovakia developed better after being freed, for they had had a democracy the nationals did not forget, which helped them rise from the ashes when the time was right.

“The struggle of man against power is the struggle of memory against forgetting,” noted Milan Kundera. There is a line in the stage play named Murder in San José by Candace Chong Mui-ngam: “What you said is about survival, while what I said is about how to survive with pride.” In the film V for Vendetta, the heroine reads a brief note left by her predecessor in a rift in jail: “Our pride isn’t worth much, but it is what we genuinely own. That is the last inch of our domain where we are free.”

Some day in the future when the internet is blocked, Hong Kong locked down, books burnt, scholars buried alive (one of the crimes of the first Emperor in 212 BC in Chinese history), please remember no one can usurp the last inch of freedom we still own and take away our heads which belong to us. When everyone saves their memories and makes narratives of real history, our memories will not be crushed. Plebeians are able to struggle together against forgetting and keep a sharp lookout for redacted history. As long as the past is not to be controlled by bigwigs, plebeians will be able to make a decision about their own prospects, be in command over their own future again.

(Au Ka-lun, veteran journalist)

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