The Relation Between Hong Kong's Anti-Subversion Article No. 23 and Joseph Heller's Satirical Commentary on the Military in the Novel, "Catch 22"
On September 24 the Hong Kong government firmly publicized Article No. 23, making Hong Kong residents who have become accustomed to democracy and freedom to be at a sudden loss in the face of "instigating subversion" and "instigating splits". This legislation's stipulation for a consultation seems to leave no room for residents to choose; there is only the possibility to "consult" with residents, and this is only for fear of the democratic habits formed in the people of Hong Kong.
This makes me recall a satirical novel written by Joseph Heller called "Catch 22." The novel takes place in World War II and describes a United States flight team that was stationed on an island in the Mediterranean Sea. The head of the team, Cathcart, who was eager to be promoted to general, purposely increased the flight and bomb missions of his subordinates. He was willing to use the lives of his subordinates in exchange for his own promotion. The manager of the restaurant, Milo, looks "honest," however, he established a private international company under the pretense of buying food. He used a large amount of planes to smuggle goods, even hiring the planes of the enemy to move goods for his company and setting up contracts with the enemy to safeguard a bridge. Later, he even became an international celebrity.
Yossarian is the bomber of this flight team. Full of eagerness to fight for justice he was devoted to the war and obtained a military decoration, but after he witnessed the phenomenon of delusion, ridiculousness, insanity and cruelty, he realized that he had been cheated. He saw his fellow soldiers die in batches and he wished he could go home alive. He tried to pretend to be sick and stay in the hospital until the end of the war. According to the "Military rule No. 22", only those declared to be mentally insane could avoid flight duty, but the application had to be raised by the person himself. At the same time, the code stipulated that, whoever could realize the danger and raise the application to avoid flight duty was considered to be a clear-minded person and should continue to be used for flight missions. Military rule No. 22 also stipulated that the pilot could go home after fulfilling the number of missions stipulated by the higher authority, but he must absolutely obey the order, otherwise he could not go home. Therefore, the higher authority could continuously add missions and one had to obey. Finally the leading character realized that the Military rule No. 22 was a complete fraud, he could only obey it unconditionally. Finally, the leading character's solution was to escape from the military. [Therefore the term "Catch 22" became a widespread term meaning a no-win situation.]
Given the fact that Hong Kong already has enough applicable laws, the government has set up a strict law against an imaginary threat - "instigating subversion" and "instigating splits," these threats are basically non-existent. Furthermore, the Hong Kong government had the power to establish such a law from the very beginning. They firmly refused the public requirement to issue a "watermelon consultation book" to investigate public opinion. Such a cursory and careless attitude demonstrates the pressure these officials who are under the system of "whoever makes decision takes the responsibility" bear. The pressure does not come from the residents but from the central government that controls their lives, or their deaths. The officials who plan the legislation also have their own secretarial goals just like the heads of the flight team in Joseph Heller's novel, Catch 22.
Therefore, at present, the final explanation of Hong Kong's Article No. 23 is - If you are not engaging in the activity of "instigating subversion" and "instigating splits", Article No. 23 will not affect your freedom and so you should not oppose it; but if you oppose legislation No. 23 legislature you are opposing the legislature of the country and you are under suspicion of "instigating subversion" and "instigating splits".
"Military Rule No. 22" and Hong Kong's Article No. 23 are surprisingly similar to each other. But we cannot escape like the leading character in the novel. Hong Kong is our home. We should stand up to oppose this unreasonable legislation.