In order to love fellow citizens, we need to understand their hardships. For instance, Szeto believes Hong Kong people should care about the impoverished farmers in China’s remote rural areas, and be concerned about jailed mainland dissidents like Liu Xiaobo and Tan Zuoren.
Szeto also believes that people need to know more about Chinese culture. Unless they understand the history of China, they will not be able to nurture the kind of feelings Szeto has for his country. Last but not least, Szeto says we should learn to love the country’s natural environment, rather than pollute its rivers and raze its forests.
Apart from the war, Szeto’s character has also been shaped by his family background. He is the third child of seven siblings in a family that could not afford to educate them all. The young Wah had the worst academic results and almost failed to complete his schooling.
“During the summer holiday in Primary Three, my father lost his job. Among the four children who were going to school, two had to be withdrawn,” he says. “My father chose my elder sister because of the male dominated society and myself, because my academic results were poor when compared with my brothers.”
Szeto remembers how he cried and hid himself at home on the first day of school for Primary Four when his classmates knocked on his door to ask him why he had been absent. Luckily for him, an uncle stepped in to send the children back to school.
However, Szeto says the experience changed him forever. He became much more introverted and developed a sense of inferiority.
“There is an advantage to being introverted – I have more time to think independently. I do not talk much but I can think flexibly,” he explains. “Also, the feeling of inferiority reminded me to strive for progress with determination, thus I studied hard because I did not want to lag behind anymore.”
Szeto received his secondary education at Queen’s College and developed a habit of reading books. Lu Xun is his favourite writer and his role model.
“When I was around 16 years old, I read the books of Lu Xun. He is the most influential person in my life,” he says. “I am deeply impressed and influenced, not only by his well-written articles, but also by his attitude towards life and his work. He persisted in his own principles and was fearless in the face of absolute power.”
Szeto was also moved by Lu Xun’s love for his country. “He cared about and helped the youth. He loved our country, but also saw the weaknesses of China,” he says. “Instead of blindly supporting the country, he pointed out the mistakes and dangers that existed in China.”