Lau Siu-lun, a sociologist at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, puts down this phenomenon of young people reminiscing about a period of which they have little first-hand experience to the lack serious research and debate about Hong Kong’s experiences in that era.
“Today’s society lacks the ability to see things in a macroscopic way,” says Lau. “It is normal for people to reminisce about the past, when the reality now isn’t so great.”
Lau believes it is hard for Hong Kong to move forward without thoroughly reflecting on and analysing of its past. “It’s like keeping a relationship; if you break up with a partner without reflecting on what went wrong, you will keep on breaking up,” he says.
Those who were children during the last days of Hong Kong’s colonial administration are now adults. Some of them want to further explore their identity and the city’s colonial past. But they have few sources, except the official version, to refer to during their exploration.
This could explain why some of them tend to imagine an ideal past and glorify colonial rule on the basis of one or two facts or tales told by the past generation.
While some young people like Ng and Chik may feel nostalgia about a period they barely experienced, others who have lived most of their lives under colonial rule can confuse the reality of the period with an idealised memory of the “good old days”.
“I got a pay rise every year when Wilson and Patten were governors of Hong Kong,” says Mr Chan Wan-leung, who worked as a company chauffeur in the 1990s and is now in his fifties.
He attributes his annual pay rises to the administration of the two governors and points out he never got increases after 1997, conveniently forgetting the intervening Asian financial crisis.