M. J. Harilela aka Maj published Warriors of the Sun in May this year which he billed as the first of a trilogy meant initially to be his autobiography. Somehow, we became Facebook friends because I was interested in his book which apparently was based on Hong Kong in the Sixties. He told me I could buy it from Amazon, which Su did for me a few days ago because she has an account. In just four days, the book arrived, purportedly from LA, which was extremely efficient. My initial thought was that Amazon must have kept a stock of the book in Hong Kong to meet demands from book lovers in Hong Kong, noting that the contents are about Hong Kong and created in Hong Kong, until I turned to the last page with the bar code above which was printed, “Made in the USA Las Vegas, NV 09 August 2022” which suggests that it was a product of “printing on demand”.
I started reading from the beginning. The book has the same size of my memoir, but with a lot fewer pages and printed in smaller fonts. The shipping charges cost more than the book. It began with a Foreword from the author himself. In short, Maj started by expressing his fears and worries on the passage of the National Security Law by China on 30 June 2020 which became law for Hong Kong the following day. In his words, the law “aimed at stamping out opposition to ruling communist party in the former British colony of Hong Kong” and was passed without consideration or consultations with the people of Hong Kong and its legislative council. He went on to say that the law took away the rights of the people of Hong Kong to voice against the communist party and encroached on Hong Kong’s civil liberties.
Maj and I, now both authors, must be living in different worlds. Indeed, we are. He now lives in Birmingham in the UK and has actually been there since 2004, whereas I have never ever lived anywhere but in Hong Kong, except when I was on vacation or for work. Friends who have read my memoir would have come across what I wrote in the Postscript written in November 2020 where I said I was impressed by the resolve, speed and efficacy of the Central Government in having enacted national security laws for Hong Kong, thereby enabling law abiding citizens to continue with their daily lives legally and lawfully and in peace and quiet. So, there we are, same laws and same situations being perceived and interpreted so differently by two authors of similar age brought up mainly in Hong Kong. Maj was convinced that “the Chinese government would come down hard on the people of Hong Kong,” adding that his “fears have now been realized.” He was expressing his views – no doubt personal views – against the background that he had revisited Hong Kong many times over the past 15 years when he noticed that “people seem less happy and more concerned of their future.” My advice to him is that he’d better stay in UK, lest the national security laws might catch up with him. I would also advise him to read my real autobiography which I published in January 2021 in Hong Kong for a different view, and he can buy it by following the instructions on my website, as I have bought his from Amazon.
Yes, people from Hong Kong are leaving – many for UK – in the past year or two; and Maj alluded to in his Foreword that UK had taken up “the dramatic step of opening a pathway for citizenship for up to three million residents of the territory.” Dramatics, I certainly agree; and I recall Baroness Dunn (or may be Lady Dunn those days) speaking almost in tears about Hong Kong people trying to get UK to offer them some form of assurance in the run up to 1997. Yes, it’s all politics, which called for political solutions; and the world hasn’t hanged much in the last 30 years. Mark my words, I would bet my bottom dollar that at least half of the Hong Kong people who left for UK in the past 18 months would find it difficult to stay on in UK for the time required to earn citizenship and would either return to Hong Kong or try to do so except that some might not have the means for so doing.
Maj had also questioned why China had condemned the UK government for interfering (with her internal affairs) when China should have been condemned for breaking international law. I am not sure how much law Maj has read. I am not a lawyer and I like what Shakespeare said about hanging all lawyers. Nevertheless, I hold in high regards lawyers such as Greenville Cross who wrote an open letter to Boris Johnson before he announced his resignation as Prime Minister. In the letter, he told Johnson that UK has no role on the internal affairs of Hong Kong and that the Joint Declaration is not an international treaty or covenant. He also told Johnson that his Ministers and staff, who had resigned in droves, ought to have given him better advice, except that most of them, in particular a Liz Truss, were wet between the ears (my interpretation); and to think that she could be his successor certainly boggles the mind.
Lest I may be misunderstood, let me quickly say for the record that I have no problem with what political view Maj holds as long as he can back those views with facts and reasons. History is slightly different from fiction. Maj’s Warriors I understand has earned some positive reviews and judging from the speed with which my order was filled, his first of his trilogy is doing well, and I wish him well. I can assure Maj that freedom of speech will continue in Hong Kong, certainly longer than he and I would survive, but freedom is not absolute, definitely not. In our dark days, certain individuals, aided and abetted by foreign aids and powers, were trying their utmost to destroy and weaken the fabrics of our society that many of us had gone to great lengths to build up. The national security laws called a stop to all those nonsenses and appear to be working. The West is trying hard to promulgate a different narrative; and I see no reason why they should be allowed to win the day.