|Not The South China Morning Post
|June 30, 1997|
|Most Hong Kong people scurried home, locked the door and huddled nervously in front of the TV. Others had already fled to bolt holes in Southeast Asia or even further afield. Not so our fearless QQ. Our man on the front line in the final days of Hong Kong filed this last report in the early hours of Tuesday, 1st July, 1997, as the communist forces of darkness poured over the border from Red China. In this, his final report, QQ captures the cold horror of a city facing approaching doom - a city falling into the clutches of an evil empire... Since receiving this harrowing account of the fall of Hong Kong, we have heard no word of QQ.
Monday, 30th June - 8.30am Wake up shivering on the floor of a 2nd storey apartment near Hong Kong's Central District. Get to my feet, and switch off air con. The last few nights have been hell. The Foreign Correspondents Club Handover Bash on the 28th degenerated into chaos. Last night, a party of 10 of us gathered discreetly at Harry Ramsden's for what may be the last occasion on which fish and chips are legal. The uncertainty is starting to wear us all down. Fall back to sleep.
8.45 am A woman in her 70s is asking me whether it is alright for her to have a shower. What is this? Am I dreaming? What's happening? All suddenly becomes clear as I recall that oneís mother is visiting Hong Kong for four weeks.
8.50 am One's loyal domestic helper reports for duty. Tell her to take the day off - Hong Kong is on the verge of collapse, and all she wants to do is ironing... All is confusion. I must collect myself
10.00 am I feel much clearer after a shower. My mother reminds me of the seven pints of Carlsberg I had after the fish and chips last night. Send loyal domestic helper out to the market for brocolli. Is it dangerous out there, I wonder?
10.30 am As I feared, still no sign of loyal domestic helper. Has she been lynched or shot on the once-placid streets of our little colonial paradise? If it is unsafe for Filipinos, what about Westerners? There is only one way to find out. Send my mother out to buy toilet paper - the shops seem to be in short supply of it recently. Who knows whether I will see her again? Fortunately, there are still six rolls of "loo" paper in the bathroom.
11.00 am Both loyal domestic helper and mother have returned safely (though no loo paper). I can only assume that the streets are secure for the time being. Decide to venture out myself. After lunch.
12.00 am Loyal domestic helper cooks up chicken curry with vegetables. When will we be eating again, I wonder?
1.00 pm Venture out alone, the oppressive rain and dark storm clouds almost willing me back to the safety of my apartment, mainly to get an umbrella. Nervous groups of people wander around. Many are tourists, coming to photograph our last few hours of freedom and justice. How ghoulish. Others are foreign press, jostling with one another for the best shot of the British flag flying for the last time. The locals are preparing as best they can for what tonight may bring.
1.30 pm Get on the Star Ferry and cross the harbour to Kowloon. The Royal Yacht Britannia rolls gently in the swell. Next to her, HMS Chatham lies at anchor, her guns pointed defiantly north. Outside the Cultural Centre, communist lackeys have erected pink, yellow and blue illuminated dragons to brainwash children into welcoming the Stalinist invaders. How sickening.
1.40 pm Check out the HMV Records sale. Mostly rubbishy film soundtracks, but find The Troggs "The Singles Anthology" for just HK$39. I wonder how much lower prices will fall today, as nightfall approaches and people sell whatever they can in a last bid for survival.
2.00 pm Get back on the Star Ferry - to Wanchai rather than directly back to Central. Pass the Convention and Exhibition Centre, seeing the British and Chinese flags hanging behind the massive glass wall of the main hall, site of this evening's dreaded "Handover" ritual. Drop into Park n Shop - no toilet paper on the shelves!
2.15 pm Examine the security arrangements around the Exhibition Centre annex - three rain-sodden policemen nervously joking among themselves. Opposite, just outside the China Resources complex, are barmy members of the "you name it, we'll demonstrate against it, including April the 5th" group of activists. Yellow-teethed, pro-mainland geriatrics shout at them from the balcony of the China Resources Building. The mood is ugly - or is it just the geriatrics?
2.30 pm Step into the Old China Hand for a coffee. Time has not been kind to the "Hand", nor to its regulars. The scene within this faded pub is appalling: dozens of British men, with plentiful divorces and beer guts under their belts, cluster around the smoky bar sipping their pints, while their Filipina girlfriends look on. If it has come to this, pulling the plug on the British Empire's life support system at midnight will be an act of mercy.
3.00 pm Wander through Central. TV camera crews everywhere looking for someone to interview. Democrat and soon-to-be ex-LegCo Member Szeto Wah is holding court on the steps of the LegCo Building.
3.30 pm Arrive back home. Everyone napping. The tension is unbearable. Decide to have a nap myself.
5.00 pm Switch on TV. Watch Governor Chris Patten leave Government House for the last time. Not a dry eye to be seen, except - curiously - among those onlookers who are standing beneath umbrellas. Do brollies provide emotional comfort? One for the psychologists to mull over.
6.00pm Take mother and head out to deepest, darkest Sai Wan Ho, to meet up with fellow rebels. A large quantity of supplies is stacked up on the quayside. Our boat emerges through the drizzle. As we watch the aircraft take off from Kai Tak, we load our supplies on board the bobbing craft and make jokes to keep our spirits up.
8.00 pm We are positioned in the harbour, next to the "Sir Percieval" a British naval logistics ship, apparently big enough to carry enough toilet paper to keep Hong Kong supplied for six months. As the first explosions light up the sky, I feel a sudden sense of foreboding twinged with panic. My mother has spilled wine on my leg. As last fireworks echo across the harbour, a vegetable samosa rolls across the deck and into the murkey water. The symbolism is exquisite.
10.00 pm Our boat drops us off . Catch the MTR into Central. Head up the escalator into Soho. Amazingly, my apartment has still not been looted.
12.00 pm Watch the handover ceremony on TV. Down: UK flag. Up: PRC flag. We waited 15 years for that?! Is it just me, or is the Chinese national anthem the same tune played by awful brass brands at English village fetes, school sports days and similar tiresome non-events?
Tuesday, 1st July, 1997, 12.05 pm Put mother to bed. Walk down to the LegCo building. Lan Kwai Fong is in a state of upheaval as drunken gwailos dressed in Chinese clothes roll around. Please God, donít let the SAR Government renew these peopleís work permits.
12.30 pm Watch pro-democracy demonstration on Queen's Rd. Half the marchers are gwailos, and thatís not counting the media. Martin Lee strides right past me without even saying hello. Minutes later, he is on the balcony addressing the crowd. Black tie group at the HK Club lean out of their own balcony to watch. A HK Govt helicopter hovers over the harbour to make sure that Wency the vicious pink killer dolphin does not leap into Li Peng's boat as the great man crosses back over the harbour later tonight. Time to go home. Tiresome non-event, indeed: imagine New Yearís Eve being so unexciting that politicians leaned out of balconies to complain about it. That was tonight. One person arrested, released without charge. 6.2999 million people bored out of their skulls.
12.45 pm Walking home. See red flags fluttering in locations where the Union Flag has flown for a century and a half. This helps me get back into apocalyptic mood. At home, my gathering sense of loss as I see my beloved Hong Kong fall into the hands of despotism culminates in disaster: one's loyal domestic helper has neglected to stock the refrigerator with beer - though there is no shortage of Kraft's loathsome "Philly Flavors" strawberry cream cheese and other substances totally devoid of practical use. ThisÖ this is life under the iron heel of communism.
|Eye witness to history - Hong Kong's last 24 hours|