National Geographic : 2012 Jun
Leung Kwok Hung---a leading pro-democracy activist and legislative council member known as Long Hair, for the hippie mane that falls between his shoulder blades---rails against what he sees as a growing prohibition against free speech. " e police kowtow to Beijing, be- cause if you say no to what the Communist Party wants, you're saying no to your career," he says. "But that extends to government o cials too, and the tycoons who own the media or want to do business in China. More and more, we're becoming too passive. Half the media won't even report on our protests." Clad in a Che Guevara T-shirt and listening to Richie Havens in his book-lined o ce, Long Hair says he's been arrested nearly 20 times over the years, convicted a dozen times, imprisoned four times. He is trying to defend what he con- siders the most important parts of Hong Kong's identity: free expression, a free media---all of which were taken for granted under the "positive noninterventionism" of British rule and are now feared to a greater or lesser extent by the Chinese Communist Party. Because Hong Kong is nei- ther autonomous nor a full- edged democracy, Long Hair senses a dangerous vacuum. But on his best days, he believes that Hong Kong is an important bastion of civil liberties and, if put to it, capable of standing up to China. Last year's June 4 protests---the only ones allowed in all of China---seemed to carry extra gravitas given the uproar over the detention of a Chinese artist, Ai Weiwei, whose provocative work and social protest caused him to run afoul of the communist government. (He was arrest- ed and accused of tax evasion while boarding a plane for Hong Kong.) ere were agitprop demonstrations on East Point Road: A man in- viting people to scribble their protests on Post- it notes that were then attached to his body; a woman lighting an herbal powder on her palm, then blowing the flames out just before they burned her esh. Tens of thousands gathered in Victoria Park for a candlelight vigil. Organizers claimed 150,000 attended, while the police estimated half as many. e urgency of the protest was underscored by a profusion of T-shirts, ban- ners, and buttons reading, "Who's Afraid of Ai Weiwei?" There were songs ("We're the new The real winners at Happy Valley Racecourse are members of the elite Hong Kong Jockey Club, whose perks include the right to enter restricted areas to size up horses. The city's biggest taxpayer, the club controls legal gambling and lottery sales.