立場新聞 Stand News

Making a Stand on Our House

2015/1/1 — 8:00

(編按:Evan 希望我們記住《主場新聞》的精神,讓《立場新聞》在新一年展開新一頁。 Remembering the spirit that was House News, Evan asks us to turn over a new chapter with Stand News. )

In late June of last year I was contacted by a friend, a respected sinologist and the Asian editor of a European newspaper. He told me he would be visiting Hong Kong for a few days to research a story, and asked if I could spare the time to meet him for a drink. I agreed, and told him I had a place in mind.

When we meet he was in a sombre mood. He had spent the previous few days meeting those in positions of influence, the great if not always the good of traditional Hong Kong, and sensed, behind the words, broad smiles and firm hand shakes, that something was wrong. It was clear to him that Hong Kong and the people of this city were facing very deep-rooted problems. These were not only economic and social, but also political.

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Most worrying for my friend was the sense that something had, or was close to snapping in the community. “There is the unmistakable sense of hopelessness,” he told me, and it was this lack of faith in this city’s future, in our ability to overcome the challenges we must now face, that most troubled him.

Property prices may rise, but is it our sons and daughters who are, or can afford to be buying? An increasingly competitive and divided society blinds us to others. Monopolies in money and influence leave all but the very elite feeling powerless.

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Where was the fabled Hong Kong spirit, he wondered. But to overcome a challenge we must first acknowledge the problem. However our politics is not only deaf to our people, but to accept the game we must also be blind. This is our political dogma. To respect the powerful we must forget to ourselves.

“So, where are we going?” I was asked. “I’m taking you to House News,” I replied.

There were very few places that I knew that encapsulate so much of all that gave me hope in my home.

I lamented how suffocating my home had become; how relentlessly our motherland and our own tycoons smother us in their embrace, unintentionally stifling the opportunities on which hopes are born and dreams are built. Hong Kong had become a city that was no longer its own master, a shop that no longer sold to its people and a people denied of that most basic of freedoms to define themselves.

Yet at House News, and in what House News represented, the community I recognised came together to form something that was our own. This was a community drawn from all backgrounds, from the humble to the grand; people who loved walking and people who loved their cars; those from the arts and sciences; from the Left and from the Right, and those who happily swung both ways. What united this community was a real love, not just for what they did or wrote about, but for this city. Hong Kong was our commonality; Hong Kong people our friends and family; its streets, buildings and countryside our home. Hong Kong was our place, and House was a little slice of Hong Kong.

Among the people of House Hong Kong’s concerns no longer felt overwhelming, but became mere and enticing challenges. There were no directives or editorial lines to follow. The voice of Hong Kong people, unfettered and free, could be heard in their diversity. In such an environment hope flourishes, and dignity and a sense of self-worth so missing in much of our people is relit.

My friend rediscovered the Hong Kong spirit in the people of House News, and found hope in Hong Kong’s future, not just as a city but as a community, in its readership. Our 45-minute chat became an afternoon, and then an evening. Plans were changed. It was, as he would later remark, “easily the highlight of my trip.” “I fully understand the hopelessness,” he said of the current political situation, “which makes the spirit of the people all the more impressive.”

House was genuinely innovative. It was genuinely representative of the many voices of Hong Kong people. It appealed not to those seeking fame, fortune or influence, but those with a very real and personal perspective to share. It was democratic in its views and noble in its objectives. But above all, House was an honest voice among a crowd of paid and pressured opinion.

House died on the 26th July, 2014. It cannot be resurrected.

Stand News is not House News. Times have changed. There may be many familiar faces, but we are all a little older. It has been a long few months in its absence. Hong Kong has changed.

But I do hope that same spirit that so marked out House News will find a new home at Stand News. As in a new year, and as with Hong Kong, a new chapter has begun, but our story will continue.

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