Ami

Speaker: My name is Chi Hei Chung. My teacher asked me to have a English name when I was in primary school so I named myself Ami. Now, most of my Westerners friends call me Ami or sometimes, they come in Chung or Chi but it's not correct. It's Chi-Hei.

I was born in Hong Kong 1993 which is four years before the handover in 1997. I was raised there entirely of my life in Hong Kong. Until I think 20, I started having quite a lot of opportunity traveling around maybe because my brother moved to America and I somehow also wanted to follow him, move to there and also, I have a lot of, I don't know like study trip or exchange program.

Somehow, now I end up in Europe, the Netherlands. Yeah, but before all this trip, my question and the doubts about my own identity has already been there long time. I think actually, it's a common issue for Hongkongers, especially for those experienced the handover. It's quite tricky actually. It's like you are born, you are in a place where everyone is speaking Cantonese. Cantonese is a language which is very unique. I always explain my friend if you think Chinese is already is very difficult, then you must learn Cantonese because basically, there's more variations and more possibilities with one same vocabulary. Yeah, I always explain my friend like if you try to say [speaking in Cantonese] It already illustrates nine tones and Mandarin cannot do that as they only have four tones. That's why people saying Cantonese when you speak Cantonese is really like singing.

I’m really proud of this language and so you are born in a place like everyone using Cantonese, sometimes a mixture of English. Yeah, in Hong Kong, it's quite common you know a little bit English because we were under the British colonization, yeah, since the 1970 something- no, even earlier because China lost a war of this opium war and then they have to ceded Hong Kong, Macau to Britain. Then since then, we're under the Westerners colonization, we received education, we have similar legislative council and very similar governmental structure like Britain. Also, the daily life, you have the taxi and in Cantonese, it is [Cantonese “täk-sii”]. Bus is [Cantonese “Baa-sii”]. Yeah, also a lot of food like milk tea is also a mixture of British-English tea with milk we like. We're so familiar with something like this. You probably heard of like Hong Kong is a place that's West meets East. I think is pretty true. Yeah, maybe not like this nowadays anymore. After 1997, it is really a problem for all Hongkongers to deal with.

Yeah, of course, you don't have to think of your identity all the time if you have a daytime job like you just go to office who ask about your identity, right? It is even more and more intensified this discussion because we somehow feel the pressure from the Chinese government, the Communist Party. In 1997 they promised one thing which is one country, two system which it means is that you or we are now going to take over the control of Hong Kong. Your boss just not Britain anymore British anymore but you know what? We're so happy welcome you back and you just maintain your own way, your old way of running the city.

The system they refer to is we still have a legislative council, we have ICAC to make sure no corruption and people will gradually have their own democracy, their own rights to force for their legislative council members. Even later is the, you can call Prime Minster. Yeah, that thing. Yeah, they broke their promise, they didn't kept it. In 2003, is the first time we start realizing they want to combat or limit our freedom of speech. They have something called law 23. Basically, they have the right to assess to all the speech, our creation you made and yeah, it is so much like Hong Kong somehow realized, yeah, look at the history of the Communist Party. It is so familiar. They will gradually do the same thing they did like before. What did they did to Macau and also what did they do during the early years, they set up the Communist party by a having a lot of class struggles or political campaigns like that.

Yeah. I participate in few political protests. Very, very minor participation, but I strongly feel that I need to make my own statement. I do this annually march, something like that in the first of July which is the Memorial Day of the handover, but I have complete different attitude compared to my parents. They originally come from China. They fled to Hong Kong during the really harsh time, difficult time. We call that the Cultural Revolution. At that time, hunger, starvation, death was so common. Was just everywhere in China. My father tried 10 times fleeing to Hong Kong. He succeed and by that time, when he arrive, he determine, he didn't want to involve in politics anymore. The politics to him is really dirty and is just all about these politicians playing games. I actually know that he has really strong interest in history and in politics. You know how he watched TV, television and in newspaper is really seriously, almost like a researcher. He had three session of news program every single day and three newspaper just to compare their perspective. He's so serious on every issue. I was like, when I'm small, I want to treat him as a sort of an my idol.

I want to know how he perceived the world. I tried to engage him in this kind of political discussion, but he reject. He think I'm so naive and I'm not qualified enough to discuss with him. It's almost like a taboo if I asked about his history. What happened to you during the cultural revolution time? Or how you now see the Communist party and how you see modern China really expanding? How you think about that like? He think I have these subtle critical attitude that show how naive I see the world and then he will just, yeah, it's really harsh for me that I can seek to answer of my identity from my families. They refused to talk about that. Now, I'm doing arts, I'm making themes is somehow is really for myself to find out the answers.

Especially when I'm now in Netherlands, I had a Dutch boyfriend we have quite, yeah, stable relationship. Of course, you will think of where you're going to stay, which country, city, you will consider it as your family, your home. I'll say now, I'm really like I still think Hong Kong is my home like hometown. Everything so core of me is all from Hong Kong. Netherlands is more like, yeah, spice it up. Yeah, when you move to another place, you start having more attention to your origins.

Yeah, maybe to the last question, is the Hong Kong identity changing? If so, how? I will say it would become more and more intensified discussion in the coming few years. After the Umbrella Movement in 2014, there's a young group. Yeah, I will say almost all young people in Hong Kong think that democracy is what they're fighting for but they're really upset about the current situation and how the government responds to that.

When the suppression is more serious, somehow the response from it is also meanwhile become more serious. You have just few days ago, the leaders of the movement was put in jail up to seven years. Yeah, I was very emotional after hearing that. Yeah, if I now can involve my father in this discussion, actually I was already. I'm doing that's already in my theme. What he said is, "Yeah, if you have the opportunity, think of something our Hong Kong for your future planning." For them, that generation is almost like how to survive, but not asking where you come from and where you move to. We are now also in the same situation, but maybe just more than that.

We have to know that not all Europeans, especially Western Europeans have this opportunity to think about that. It is actually really a meaningful such a lesson. You'll just become more sensitive to the different kind of people and respect their cultures like that. That's all I think, yeah.