It’s a strange weekend.
On June 23rd, 2016, I went to the voting booth before work and put my two cents in the EU referendum debate, which had been dominating headlines for weeks and months.
That evening, I watched as voting closed and volunteers across the country worked tirelessly to make sure everyone’s vote was accounted for.
By the time I went to bed, the first counting result was yet to be announced. But there was an oddly justified sense of confidence that I would wake up to the same Britain.
On June 24th, 2016, I woke up to a worryingly divided nation instead, that was further handicapped by a lack of strong leadership.
As an immigrant living in the UK, a Vote to Leave is highly unsettling. How will this affect the economy and employment prospect? Is UK truly multicultural or am I not welcomed here?
A few hours later, I was on the phone with my parents.
“Maybe you shouldn’t renew your Hong Kong SAR passport,” they advised.
“Why?” I asked.
“You know, because of the missing booksellers,” they replied in a sombre tone.
Five members of staff of Causeway Bay Books had been ‘missing’ from Hong Kong since late 2015.
Though most of them have now returned safely, one remains in custody of Mainland Chinese authorities.
Lam Wing-kee is so far the only one who has spoken out, confirming what many of us fear and believe: they were kidnapped and illegally detained by Mainland China. Thus, sparking more protests and calls for independence.
Two of these men hold dual nationalities – one British and the other Swedish. Yet, the respective consulates are almost powerless in reaching out to the Chinese authorities.
According to Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman, ‘any Hong Kong resident who is of Chinese descent and … born in the Chinese territories’ are citizens of China.
The implication here is that the incident is ‘purely China’s internal affairs [in which] any foreign country has no right to interfere’.
In other words, holding my hometown passport nowadays could make me more vulnerable to China’s twisted legal system. It has come to a point now where having none is better than having one.
But with Brexit upon us, what will it mean to be a British passport holder?
The next day, I watched Independence Day: Resurgence in the cinema.
The main battle is obviously between the human race and the aliens. But it essentially represents a joint effort between the military, scientists and a friendly space bot taking on the hostile alien led by their queen.
The word ‘independence’ has been ringing in my head for the past few days. What does it mean? What do we want independence from, and how do we achieve that? What do we gain and lose in the process?
Doing something bold on your own could be scary. Doing it with the right people and with an effective leader – we can embrace and support one another on this bumpy ride.