A pro-establishment lawmaker says he has no detailed recollection of a declaration he signed after the 1989 Tiananmen Massacre in Beijing, which urged people to stay in Hong Kong and seek greater democratisation among other demands.

“It’s meaningless to ask [about the declaration],” Ma Fung-kwok told HKFP. “The social environment, the situation of the country, and the international environment was completely different 30 years ago.”

Ma Fung-kwok
Ma Fung-kwok. Photo: Legislative Council, via Flickr.

The declaration advocated “Hong Kong people building Hong Kong” following the Tiananmen Massacre. Other signatories included Leung Chun-ying, who went on to become chief executive; Tam Yiu-chung, former chair of the pro-Beijing DAB party; and former democrat lawmaker Frederick Fung.

Promoting democratisation of the political system was among its five demands, which also included securing and developing Hong Kong’s status as an international city and seeking job opportunities for Hong Kong citizens.

The bloodshed in Beijing, eight years before Hong Kong’s Handover from Britain to China, sparked a wave of emigration but many Hongkongers returned home after securing residence rights overseas.

HRIC Tiananmen Square 1989
After the 1989 crackdown. Photo: HRIC archive, courtesy of Gail Butler, Libby Schmalz.

“To put it simply, I said back then to ‘stay in Hong Kong to build Hong Kong,’ I think it’s not a problem, you can say that today,” said Ma. “How can you take something from 30 years ago to say that it’s still effective today? …Do you remember what you said 30 years ago?”

Police in Hong Kong have for a second successive year banned a planned candlelight mass vigil in Victoria Park, citing coronavirus restrictions. The event had been held for three decades up to 2019.

Ma also said he has been trying to “figure out what actually happened” in 1989 and believed that many media reports were “not real, not accurate, not complete, or completely escaped the reality.”

‘No one died in Tiananmen Square’

The legislator said he “has come to accept the fact that no one died on Tiananmen Square” after reading media reports from Spain and the US, but told HKFP he could not remember the exact source of the reports.

1989 Tiananmen Massacre vigil
The “Goddess of Democracy”. Photo: Kris Cheng/HKFP.

“My main point is that a lot of reports have not been corrected, those saying that people died at Tiananmen Square, the army and police fire shots, tanks rolling around…” said Ma.

“There is a Spanish television channel with a documentary that came out years ago, they were the last crew to leave Tiananmen Square, and they didn’t see it [those scenes],” said Ma. “It’s not that no one died on June 4, even officials said people have died on that day, just not at Tiananmen.”

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The Tiananmen massacre on June 4, 1989 ended months of student-led demonstrations in China. It is estimated that hundreds, perhaps thousands, died when the People’s Liberation Army was deployed to crack down on protesters in the heart of Beijing.

The Washington Post’s Jay Mathews and CBS correspondent Richard Roth have both said that they were aware of deaths around the square, but not in it.

The lawmaker, quoted by InMedia, said he understood the motives of the student protesters in 1989, but claimed had been much foreign intervention and many misleading accounts.

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Candice is a reporter at Hong Kong Free Press. She previously worked as a researcher at a local think tank. She has a BSocSc in Politics and International Relations from the University of Manchester and a MSc in International Political Economy from London School of Economics.