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Taliban attacks and Israeli airstrikes have not deterred Au from his determination to serve in conflict zones but the ending of the Umbrella Movement without any substantial concessions from the government has left him despondent.

During the movement, Au posted a slogan on his Facebook page, “Israel is China. Gaza is Hong Kong”. For him, Gaza is in the grip of Israel in terms of its geographical constraints and resources, just as Hong Kong is under the Mainland’s control.

A yellow ribbon given by a medical team from Taiwan
A yellow ribbon given by a medical team from Taiwan

Au has now resigned all his posts in governmental organisations and is considering taking early retirement. “Because I have no motivation. I want to leave and I am so disappointed at the Hong Kong government,” he says.

Now, he plans to spend more time working for MSF after retirement. Au thinks this would be more rewarding than staying in Hong Kong and fighting for what he believes he will never achieve. “In the past 13 years and 13 missions, every effort has been worthwhile. But it was useless what I did in the past few months [in the movement]. Given that, why shouldn’t I spend my strength, effort, dedication and knowledge in other places and make it worthwhile?”

Many will be sad to see Au retire, but they can take heart that he has not given up his determination to help more people in the future. “There are 14,000 doctors in Hong Kong. But in those disaster and conflict areas, there could be not a single one,” he says. “You are the only doctor there and you are the last one.”

Edited by Tracy Cheung