Enough is enough in this vicious cycle

Editorial | Mary Ma 5 Aug 2019

Another weekend, another round of protests. Worse still, more riots are in the offing.

It may already be too little, too late to deescalate the situation - even if Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor somehow manages to renounce her stubbornness and agrees to "withdraw" her hated extradition bill after announcing its shelving.

Has the SAR passed the tipping point into the unknown after two months of mass demonstrations and violent protests?

I'm extremely concerned about the dangerous development, and appeal to all to stop all forms of condemnable violent confrontation.

On Saturday, riots erupted again - this time around Tsim Sha Tsui, Mong Kok and Wong Tai Sin - repeating a self-fulfilling weekly cycle of civil disobedience and police crackdowns. Even more alarming, I don't detect any signs this crisis, the worst since 1997, will end anytime soon.

If the situation continues to gyrate with increasing ferocity, and Beijing becomes convinced Hong Kong is no longer as valuable as before, it isn't totally improbable for the central government to resort to extreme measures, including military force, to clamp down on local protests to restore peace.

Should that most regrettable scenario really occur, everyone will be in a no-win situation.

Today, Hong Kong is in for another critical moment in the ongoing crisis.

How will the community respond to anti-government activists' calls for a general strike to press the beleaguered Lam to face up to their demands for her to resign, and for an independent inquiry to be launched to investigate the crisis?

However, instead of her acceding to the various demands, I fear a general strike will harden the stance of the authorities in the SAR and Beijing in response.

The call for a general strike is deplorable. As in the riots that have now become regular weekend episodes, hardliners in Beijing would see a strike as an escalation in the anti-government movement, and use it to legitimize their push for tougher policies toward Hong Kong.

I've little doubt policymakers here and up north are closely monitoring how the community responds to the general strike appeal today. Will the city come to a standstill? While the answer will be known very quickly, I trust emergency rescue services will remain unaffected.

My fear is that it may be followed by second and third strikes.

It is like Hong Kong is being sucked into the eye of a tornado, where the most volatile weather and worst winds occur. As the whirlwinds pick up strength, everything is shattered into pieces. The chance for something to emerge unscathed is literally non-existent. It certainly isn't in the interest of Hong Kong and the mainland to see that happen.

Riots should be condemned. But as I've warned before, condemnation alone won't save the SAR from its suicidal course. Although it may be too late for the administration to take the correct steps to deescalate the situation, it's nonetheless paramount to find out why so people are so discontented, and identify ways to address their concerns.

Stop all forms of violence. Enough is enough!

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