07/03/2008, 00.00
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Hopes and fears 11 years after Hong Kong’s return to China

by Card. Joseph Zen
Donald Tsang’s administration comes in for criticism for its inability to meet the democratic and economic needs of the population. The bishop praises the “faraway emperor” (mainland China) for the way it responded to the Sichuan quake. Here is the full text of the speech the Bishop of Hong Kong delivered before the 1 July march.

Hong Kong (AsiaNews) – After the territory’s return to the fatherland 11 years ago, Hong Kong’s population is sad and helpless. The only signs of hope come from faith in God, this according to Card Joseph Zen who spoke at a prayer meeting held at Victoria Park before a crowd of 48,000 under a blistering sun before the 1 July march.

Card Zen pointed the finger especially at the Special Administrative Region’s political leadership (Donald Tsang’s administration), unconcerned about the population’s welfare.

By contrast, he had words of praise for the mainland leadership (“Do not blame the emperor”), especially for its commitment to Sichuan quake victims.

Here is the English version of the speech he delivered before taking part in the march.


I will begin this prayer meeting with Psalm 12 (13):


How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever?

How long will you hide your face from me?

How long must I bear pain in my soul, and have sorrow in my heart all the day?

How long shall my enemy be exalted over me?


Consider and answer me, O Lord my God.

Enlighten my eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death,

Lest my enemy say, “I have prevailed over him”,

lest my foes rejoices because I am shaken.


But I have trusted in your steadfast love.

My heart shall rejoice in your salvation.

I will sing to the Lord,

because he has dealt bountifully with me.


Each year we remember this anniversary of the return of Hong Kong to China. Each year we are filled with sadness. Each year we renew our hope.

When we look around us we are still filled with sadness, helplessness and despair. This is already the 11th year and yet we are still not our own masters. Democracy remains an empty promise. The universal franchise is a far away dream. What have those real masters done to Hong Kong? What have those who are in the advantageous position done for us?

In Ezekiel 34 the Lord said, “Woe are you, shepherds of Israel who have been feeding yourselves! Should not shepherds feed the sheep? You eat the fat, you clothe yourselves with the wool, you slaughter the fatlings but you do not feed the sheep. The weak you have not strengthened, the sick you have not healed, the crippled you have not bound up……but with force and harshness you have ruled them……Thus says the Lord……I require my sheep at their hand.”

Someone had promised, “I will take the urgent desires of the people as my own”. But the urgent desires of 60% of the people [1] are being stalled further and further away. It is still unclear if the universal franchise promised for 2017 and 2020 is real. The actual priorities turned out to be the setting of bewildering new political arrangements and the creation of a group of “new aristocracy’ to serve who knows whose interests.

It has also been said, “Let us put away political argument and concentrate in solving the livelihood of the people.” Are they really caring for the livelihood of the people? Who benefited from the considerable financial surplus? We, the clergy, do not have a family and we have the Church who cares for our old age. But how about the livelihood of the other old people? Is this a caring society? Is this the way we educate the next generation?

“The emperor is too far away” [2]. Do not blame the emperor. In the disaster of the earthquake of Sichuan we have seen how open are the leaders of Beijing. But somehow the emperor is still too far away. People have been sent by the central government to do the work of liaison. But who are the people they contact? Do they contact only those who say, “yes”? Do we have to sell out our conscience to be acknowledged as patriotic? Have we in Hong Kong fallen so low? Is this an international city? It has in fact become a mouse’s den.

We should have been pessimistic. But we are believers. We believe in God. The Psalm says, “But I have trusted in your steadfast love”.

Cast all your anxieties on him, for he cares about you.

[1] According to Hong Kong government data, 60 per cent of the population wants full democracy.

[2] Traditional Chinese saying according to which central authorities are faraway whilst everyday life falls under the sway of local lords and mandarins.

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See also
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From Tiananmen to the July 1st march: youth participation on the rise
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Only democracy can guarantee a just society, says Cardinal Zen


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