Tammy Ho Lai Ming wrote this poem for the Autumn 2009 issue of the Asia Literary Review. At the time, there was widespread disappointment that the then Chief Executive, Donald Tsang, had failed to stand up for Hong Kong. History repeats itself. Tammy comments on the current protests here.
stands stiff, recites from his script,
relies too heavily on the codes from Up North:
I speak for you.
We don’t think so.
Oh no, you don’t.
We know your appointment was predicted,
that you were cooked in a black box.
We know that the codes aren’t only yours.
That they are ours too.
when the world was belittled
by the tidy choreography of thousands
dressed in light-bulbs,
of a drummed synchronised welcome
of men in tight-fitting boxes punching ‘Peace’
into the air
again and again.
when China was served
collapsing tofu schools
and contaminated milk.
We are not heartless.
Our heartbeat is tied
to the nation’s.
Still, something is not forgotten.
Something nags, has pulled our pulse out of beat,
for twenty years.
Shamed by your denial,
Glory and repentance,
we seek both.
we need both.