Ahkok Wong is an activist and school lecturer from down the road in Hong Kong, potentially enjoying his last two days of freedom.
“Environmental problems are one of the main outcomes of a one party-ruled, corrupted, non-humane government,” he starts. “The citizens started discovering what harm the PX [paraxylene] plant can bring, so there are [a lot] of protests, and then the police arrest and kill protesters, forcing people to sign agreements that they support PX plants,” he continues. “They control the media and the internet so the news cannot get across the country.”
Protesters like Ahkok are sentenced by a judiciary with links to the government, which in turn has links to big business — for example, the Maoming PX joint venture between Sinopec and the state.
We’ve lived so long under the spell of hierarchy—from god-kings to feudal lords to party bosses—that only recently have we awakened to see not only that “regular” citizens have the capacity for self-governance, but that without their engagement our huge global crises cannot be addressed. The changes needed for human society simply to survive, let alone thrive, are so profound that the only way we will move toward them is if we ourselves, regular citizens, feel meaningful ownership of solutions through direct engagement. Our problems are too big, interrelated, and pervasive to yield to directives from on high.
—Frances Moore Lappé, excerpt from Time for Progressives to Grow Up