October 27, Tuesday.
It was around three o’clock when I set foot in the covered plaza of the HSBC headquarters, Central. Beneath the modern and structured steel that encompasses the building, banners and placards were scattered alongside the colorful dome tents and tattered furniture in the sun-lit plaza.
Thirty protesters have gathered on site. Thirty individuals, from different walks of life, different occupations and different backgrounds, all gathered in the same place for their own reasons and aspirations but are nonetheless united by the common goal to support the popular movement in Wall Street, the United States.
Yes, welcome to Occupy Central – the Hong Kong stop of the popular new social movement, “Occupy Wall Street”.
Occupy Central had begun on October 15 when Hong Kong joined the league of worldwide campaign against capitalism and economic inequality.
While people have joined for their own specific reasons, “We are the 99%” became a common protest slogan as the majority of protesters have united to protest against the wealthiest 1% for their unhealthy financial activities and the exploitation of the general population.
Several groups, notably the League of Social Democrats and the student group, Left 21, led the protests outside the Exchange Square, gathering a crowd of approximately 300 protesters.
Since then, some protesters have been camping in the covered plaza of the HSBC headquarters, a symbol of financial giants in Hong Kong. While some had to leave for their regular routines like going back to school or work, or to take care of their families, about thirty of them remained, including retired social worker Mr. Wong.
At age 68, Wong is one of the oldest protesters among the group. Fuelled by the determination to give back to society, Wong travels to Central early morning each day to join the rest of the protesters and stays till late hours to support their work.
While he does believe that the capitalist system is suitable for Hong Kong, he remains highly critical of the bureaucratic one in China as he believed that its corrupt system had exploited the poor and the working class, resulting in economic inequality and suffering of the 99%.
“To fight is to reason,” said Wong.
According to him, people have to stand up to fight for a better living. Hong Kong, as both an international city and a part of China, has an important duty to support the Occupy Movement.
For one, being part of the global financial system, Wong believes that Hong Kong would suffer if the global economic system is upset, especially when both Europe and the United States is suffering from debt crisis.
Meanwhile, being a city guaranteed with constitutional freedom and rights, Wong believes that Hong Kong should strive to help China in advancing its society and to raise people’s standard of living.
More importantly, Wong believes that youngsters should take the lead in supporting these social movements as they have long played an important role in shaping societies.
“The future of our world belongs to the next generation,” said Wong, “and I am here to help them.”