There’s no other way, but to leave Hong Kong for freedom: Samson’s story ⦁ 離開香港去尋找自由:陳渭新的故事

Samson Chan is in his early 50s. He left Hong Kong in fear of his life and arrived the UK in early January. He was the assistant of Ted Hui, former Hong Kong pro-democracy legislator who faces criminal charges stemming from protests in Hong Kong in 2019.

After Ted Hui landed in London to begin self-exile in early December 2020, Samson believed he was being followed in Hong Kong. It is this worry that pushed him to leave Hong Kong after having lived there all his life.

Did you ever think about leaving Hong Kong?  ⦁  喺香港嘅50幾年,有冇試過諗離開

No. I never wanted to leave Hong Kong because I knew I would find it hard to adjust to a new life.

I never really left Hong Kong, other than a few times to mainland China and this one time being on a cruise back in the early 1990s with my sister. 

I never really liked travelling and therefore I have never been to the UK before landing in December 2020.

I didn’t have a chance to plan, and frankly have no vision of what my life will be going forward. But, I have always lived my life one day at a time, so I think I will be fine.

What I find the hardest to adjust to here is the language. I can speak a bit of English but I am not very good at it. I now listen to radios here to brush up my English. 

How did you feel when you left Hong Kong, and when you landed in the UK?  ⦁  你離開香港同落地英國嘅心情

I was upset when I flew out of Hong Kong.

My father and my brother came to the airport with me. My father is in his 90s and has to walk with a stick, so I did not expect him to come. But I could not move to Britain with him, because he is too old, and can hardly speak English. 

I am already missing my father so much. I now call him a few times a week on the phone. One of the saddest things of leaving Hong Kong is to leave my father behind. I worry that I will never see him again.

I was also upset to have left my friends, particularly those I met during the fight for democracy for Hong Kong. 

When I landed in the UK, I feel relieved. It is simple, I have more faith in the political system here than in Hong Kong.

Many Hong Kongers who are moving here have spent time preparing for their move. You did not have that luxury.  ⦁  好多移英港人都有時間去預備,你反而係「 走難」

No, I had to leave with not much time to plan. I had to go as soon as I could for my own safety. 

I had some time to see my closest friends but I kept my move very low key. It’s not just me, but a lot of Hong Kongers are doing the same. It’s because none of us want our plans interrupted given the political atmosphere in Hong Kong now. 

You can call me selfish, but I really could not have told everyone that I was leaving. My move is more like an exile, rather than immigration.

I honestly don’t know if coming to the UK is the right thing or wrong thing to do. I just know that I had to do it.

You stayed in London for a bit before deciding to go to Manchester. Why? ⦁  點解唔留喺倫敦而北上曼城

There are more Hong Kongers that I know of in Manchester.

I think a lot of people who are in the 50s or older face a similar situation: Our English is not very good and to start a new life on our own is challenging. That’s why I came to Manchester, at least I have friends in here but not many in London.

My advice to those who are beyond 50 is to consider living in a place where there is a bigger Hong Konger population. Support from people we know and trust will go a long way.

What is your future plan? ⦁  係英國之後嘅打算係乜

When I was working with Ted, particularly in 2019, we were at the front line of the protests in Hong Kong a lot. There were moments when I thought I could’ve died, but that didn’t stop me.

There are still many young Hong Kongers, whether still in Hong Kong or in the UK, who need help. I am not going to be silenced and I am not going to give up. All my life I’ve not cared about money nor achievement – I know I should just keep helping people. 

My family wants me to lay low in the UK. But I can’t, I’ve been an activist since 1989 when I was in my 20s. I am a free person, and I will continue to say and do what is right.

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