Denise Ho, Hong Kong Cantopop star, joins the Hong Kong Protests…

Denise Ho Wan-see, also known as HOCC, is a Hong Kong-based Cantopop singer and actress, as well as a pro-democracy and LGBT rights activist. Wikipedia







Denise Ho: Hong Kong has reached ‘a point of no turning back’

Cantopop star says city has become a police state as young people fight for their lives

“We are officially in a police state,” the Hong Kong Cantopop star and activist Denise Ho told a sold-out audience in Sydney on Sunday night.

Speaking at the Sydney Opera House’s Antidote festival, Ho told an audience of mostly self-identifying Hongkongers that the political upheaval in their home had reached “a point of no turning back”.

“We are in a state of humanitarian crisis where police have full authority to do whatever they want with the people, and the government is hiding behind the police force,” she said.

As protests in Hong Kong headed towards their 14th week, Ho reflected on the resilience and tenacity of the protesters, who have turned out in hundreds of thousands since the first demonstrations in June.

“Where does this courage come from? Hong Kong has never been known to be a politically conscious society,” she said. “Nothing like this has ever been seen before and now people have been pushed to this edge – these young people are fighting for their lives and for their future.”

She rejected allegations by Beijing that the movement was being provoked by the US or other international players. “This is a leaderless, centralised movement,” she said. “They are still claiming there are foreign forces coming into the movement … it’s just not the truth.”

Despite being billed as a talk about pop and politics, Ho’s session at the annual ideas festival focused firmly on the latter. In conversation with the journalist Zing Tsjeng, Ho touched on her singing career only insofar as it related to her activism.

Art and creative practice, she said, was a space in which “the fight can go on”. “They can lock you up, they can ban you from going into the country, and they can censor your name on Chinese social media, but they cannot really control your mind.”

She said she believed most celebrities had been “silencing themselves” on the political situation in Hong Kong “for fear of being blacklisted, as I have been, on the China market”.

The audience gave no indication that they minded the singular focus of the event. Crowd members chanted pro-freedom slogans. Questions from the floor were focused mainly on protest strategy. They wanted to know what they could do from Australia to help their families at home. They called out in encouragement and support when the event took an emotional turn.

Ho was brought to tears as the audience was shown a short video summarising the months of protests, which were triggered in June by the introduction of a bill that would have allowed people to be extradited to mainland China to face court. The bill was seen as an attempt by Beijing to undermine democracy in the relatively liberal territory, governed by China under the “one country, two systems” framework.

“The police have really been completely out of hand, and so Hong Kong people are furious,” Ho said.

Ho said she expected the crisis to escalate in the lead-up to celebrations on 1 October to mark the founding of the People’s Republic of China in 1949.

“What will happen during this month, nobody will really answer this question,” she said. “What we can really do in this moment is become more united in this fight and become really strategic in the face of this huge machine that is the [Chinese] communist government.”

She said six young people had killed themselves “because of despair” during the protest period.

“I really want the world to know that although we are seeing a lot of violence from all sides at this moment, this really started out as a largely peaceful protest in June,” she said.

“We tried all sorts of ways to get our voices heard, to get to the government. But they only responded with teargas, more teargas, rubber bullets, sponge bullets, police brutality.”


Excerpts from:

Cheat sheet: Denise Ho – Sydney Opera House

Five songs that turned the Cantopop icon from pop singer to protestor

Sydney Opera House

In September 2014, tens of thousands occupied the streets of Hong Kong to protest for the right to vote in open elections – an agreement with Beijing many claim was ignored. It was named the “Umbrella Movement” after the umbrellas that protestors used to protect themselves against the tear gas and Hong Kong’s blistering heat.

One of the proudest voices behind Cantopop, Hong Kong’s dominant strain of pop music, became the unexpected face of the movement.

“That was the moment we realised the one country, two systems, was gradually fading away from us,” said singer Denise Ho to the BBC. She joined the protestors on the streets and in tents occupying the bustling business districts of Central and Kowloon. Ho started to use her music as a political instrument, first by touring in her home of Hong Kong, and later staging a series of concerts on the city’s trams.

Here are five of the songs that defined Ho’s career, both as an artist and as an activist.

‘尋愛’ (Anita Mui cover of Mariya Takeuchi’s ‘Plastic Love’)

While ‘Plastic Love’ wasn’t written by Ho (it’s a cover of a Mariya Takeuchi disco song), it defined a relationship between two artists that was at its essence political. Ho came to fame as a songwriter, live performer and one of the only female disciples of Anita Mui. Mui, affectionately referred to as ‘the Madonna of Hong Kong’, was herself a staunch pro-democracy advocate. In 1989 after the events at Tiananmen Square in Beijing, Mui spoke publicly in support of the protestors and donated money to a clandestine group who were smuggling demonstrators to safety.

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