Never bet against Hong Kong people. When push comes to shove, they will fight for their core values. I have heard these two sentences many times before. Hong Kong’s last British governor, Chris Patten, often said no one should bet against Hong Kong people. If you bet against someone, such as a boxer or a tennis player, it means you expect that person to lose. Therefore, if you bet against Hong Kong people, it means you believe they can’t win even though in this case the bet doesn’t actually involve money. The expression “when push comes to shove” means when a situation worsens to the point that decisive action must be taken. The word “core” used this way means the most important part of something.
Over the past weeks, during protests against the extradition treaty with mainland China, many friends said no one should bet against Hong Kong people. What they meant was no one should expect Hong Kong people to lose when they fight for their core values. Push came to shove when Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor refused to withdraw the extradition proposal even after more than one million people marched to protest against it. This sentence means the situation had worsened to the point when decisive action had to be taken after the chief executive refused to listen to the people. The people took action by surrounding the Legislative Council and nearby streets to prevent debate on the proposed law.
The Legco president then decided to postpone the debate. Last week, the chief executive announced the proposed law would be suspended indefinitely. Hong Kong people won. That’s why so many people say no one should bet against Hong Kong people. When push comes to shove they will defend their core values. Push came to shove in 2003 when the government insisted on Article 23 national security legislation, which Hong Kong people feared would take away their civil liberties. Half a million people took decisive action by marching to protest. This forced Tung Chee-hwa, the chief executive at the time, to withdraw the proposed law.
永遠不要打賭香港人會輸（bet against Hong Kong people）；在迫不得已之時（when push comes to shove），他們會為自己的核心（core）價值而戰——這兩句話，我已聽過很多次。英國派駐香港的最後一任港督彭定康，也常說不應有人打賭香港人會輸（bet against Hong Kong people）。若你bet against某人，例如一名拳手或是網球手，那即是說你打賭那人會輸。因此，若你bet against Hong Kong people，意即你認定香港人不會贏，即使在這個情況中不是真的用錢來下注。習語when push comes to shove是指當事態嚴重，迫不得已要採取果斷行動之時。Core在這裏是指某事最核心或重要的部份。
過去幾個星期，反對將引渡條例擴展至中國大陸的持續抗議期間，許多朋友都說，沒有人應bet against香港人——他們的意思是，當香港人為自己的核心（core）價值而戰鬥時，無人應預計他們會輸。即使有逾一百萬人遊行反對引渡條例修訂草案，特首林鄭月娥仍拒絕撤回，push came to shove，意即特首拒絕聆聽市民的聲音，形勢已惡化至非常危急的關頭，必須採取果斷的行動。人們就採取了行動，包圍立法會及附近的街道，阻撓審議法案的會議。
立法會主席於是決定延遲辯論會議。上星期，特首宣佈會無限期暫緩修訂法案。香港人贏了。因此，許多人都說，沒有人應該賭香港人會輸（bet against Hong Kong people）。在危急關頭（when push comes to shove），他們會捍衞自己的核心（core）價值。二○○三年政府強推《基本法》有關國家安全的廿三條立法，香港人害怕法例會奪走他們的公民自由，當時同樣事態嚴重（push came to shove）。五十萬人採取了行動，上街遊行抗議，最終導致當時的特首董建華撤回二十三條立法草案。
Michael Chugani 褚簡寧