‘Hong Kong Connection’, a legend | Au Ka-lun

RTHK program Hong Kong Connection
RTHK program 'Hong Kong Connection'

The operation to eliminate “Hong Kong Connection” continues as RTHK (Radio Television Hong Kong) top management forbade any features of topics related to June 4 and 7.21. From now on, the show can only talk about people’s livelihood. The program producer finally resigned, thus the group of ax men has done a good job.

We will miss our old friends when they go away. As RTHK wiped out its online video archive, everyone is trying to salvage their memories by saving the hundreds of episodes of “Hong Kong Connection” to their mobile phones. But where should one begin to watch? Please allow me to be your humble guide. Here are some classic masterpieces of recent years.

First of all, “Hong Kong Connection” did indeed cover a handful of stories about people’s livelihood. One documentary, “Old Companions,” chronicles two pairs of elderly people supporting each other in their twilight years. The mundane everyday life reflects the helplessness of the caregivers, and the hint of melancholy speaks volumes about the situation of the elderly in Hong Kong, which is heartbreaking. There is another episode, “Walk the Last Mile with You.” As documentary filmmakers, we used to fantasize about making documentaries about people on their deathbeds, telling all kinds of fantastic stories, but we could never achieve it. The team of “Hong Kong Connection” managed to do it, following the elderly couples for two years, watching them pine away, documenting their final thoughts, their family members’ laughter and tears, life and death, and that was it.

A veteran program yet innovative in its storytelling format. It was difficult to go out to film under typhoon signal 10. “A Typhoon Mangkhut Journal” is a collection of video clips from the homes of ordinary citizens, recording the day of Hong Kong people under the super cyclone. The widely talked about “The Yuen Family” tells the story of the relationship between the couple, Derek Yuen and Eunice Yung, and the deeply yellow members of the rest of the Yuen family. The episode captures the true nature of an open-hearted household, which is a portrait of a divided family in the city.

In contrast, the 7.21 investigation involved and stirred up a massive power. The episode “Sino United Publishing” exposes that the bookstore chain with 70% to 80% market share is actually controlled by the Liaison Office. In the episode “Patrick Ho’s List,” Ho’s bribery case was reconstructed to reveal the dark secrets behind Chinese diplomacy.

The anniversary of June 4th has always been a headache for documentary filmmakers. Thirty years on, what else is there to say? In the first episode of the “1989 Chronicle” series, the team of “Hong Kong Connection” flew to Poland to interview Lech Wałęsa, the leader of the Polish trade union Solidarity, to remind the people of Hong Kong that on that same June 4, 1989, an important event with far-reaching implications also took place on the other side of the world. The Solidarity defeated the communist party in the election, unveiling the prelude to the downfall of communism in Eastern Europe. When looking back at the fork in the road of history, there are many emotions.

In the third episode, “The Quest,” the team surprised the world by uncovering the list of wanted leaders of the student movement at that time, tracing their footsteps thirty years later. Some persisted in their old ways, while others were no longer enthusiastic. In the fourth installment, “Forget,” the team found the names of those who protested against the massacre in Beijing among the political advertisements, and traced them through their journey of 30 years in Hedong and 30 years in Hexi. The story was concise and meaningful.

To all the staff of “Hong Kong Connection,” you have already fought a beautiful battle. Ten years later, this will be the daily routine in Hong Kong: children will come home from school, parents will help with their homework, then they will find the legendary “Hong Kong Connection” from the secret corner. After watching it, the children will say: in the past, “Hong Kong Connection” would talk about politics, people would criticize the government, and...this is called freedom.

(Au Ka-lun, veteran journalist)

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