In his newspaper article of 4 June 2014, Ng Chi Sum, a renowned Hong Kong (“HK”) current affairs commentator expressed his amazement about the binary labeling widely circulated then in the internet community: those who join the June Fourth Candlelight Vigil in Victoria Park (“VP Vigil”) are “Chinese”, and those who join that in Tsimshatsui’s Cultural Centre Piazza (“TST Vigil”) are “Hong Konger”. According to his understanding, as he wrote, this kind of labeling derived from the popular “domestic discourse” which received rising support in recent years, and which promotes, inter alia:
- absolute segregation of HK and China (“PRC”);
- that the democracy of HK cannot be dependent on the democracy of PRC;
- that matters concerning the human rights of the PRC people, including those like Liao Xiaobo and Li Wangyang, are matters of the PRC people only and HK people should not get involved in them;
- that the organizer of the VP Vigil, the HK Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements in China (“the Alliance”), with one of its goals being “building a democratic China, has failed in promoting the democracy of China despite 25 years of effort, and together with the reasons listed above, the Alliance should not be supported anymore.
In fact, numerous articles were published since May 2014 in the official online publication “Passion Times” of the TST Vigil’s organizer “Civic Passion”, explaining why it was time for HK people to “change venue” when doing any June Fourth memorial service. In one written in direct response to Ng’s above article, the author went further to say that for HK people, the June Fourth massacre is not about condolences, but about the brutality of the PRC government in killing its own people. It is no occasion for mourning anymore and HK people should attend the TST Vigil to pledge their determination on “domestic movement”, protecting domestic interest, fighting for HK’s democracy, and overturning the PRC regime. The author also highlighted that since some members of the Alliance made deals with the PRC government during the 2010 political reform of HK and betrayed HK people, they should no longer be trusted. Moreover, in face of the “colonization” of the HK by the PRC government/people since the 1997 handover, “patriotisms” is something HK people cannot afford to embrace anymore. And since the Alliance promotes patriotisms, HK people should entirely break their tie with the Alliance. All in all, the author seemed to suggest that those who opt for the TST Vigil are real true HK people subscribing to “radical domestic values”, and those attending the VP Vigil are either confused or “patriotic” like Ng.
Personally, I am no fan of the Alliance or Civic Passion. However, I have been attending the VP Vigil for at least 20 times during the last 25 years. The reasons for doing so are complex and personal, including mobilization by some first-hand knowledge and experience of myself in 1989. In the morning of 4 June 2014, I posted a photo of last year’s VP Vigil on my Facebook (“FB”) page. Immediately it attracted comments from a FB friend (John Doe, alias) saying that the moment I attended the VP Vigil, I would be “hijacked” by the Alliance to become a supporter of them. He advised me not to go to the VP Vigil, but to the TST Vigil instead (See Appendix I).
When talking about June Fourth, one easily associates with struggles of the people against an autocratic and centralized power (the PRC government). However, the above examples just illustrate that this association is far from complete. By just looking at the arguments over the location of the Candlelight Vigil, one can see that the struggles against subjection, the exercise of power amongst the people (i.e. people vs people), and some knowledge being subjugated consequently all interplay in this “site”. The ultimate question to be asked then is: have we been examining “power” with sufficient depth and width when we talk about the June Fourth Massacre?
CHOW, Pok Yin (2014). The “June Fourth Candlelight Vigil” as Site of Subjection, Power Relations and Subjugated Knowledge . Cultural Studies@Lingnan, 42. Retrieved from http://commons.ln.edu.hk/mcsln/vol42/iss1/7/