VISA ISSUE: DPP Secretary-General Luo Wen-chia, who also took part in the dialogue, said Taiwan would be fortunate if the Hong Kong bookseller opened a shop in Taipei
By Jason Pan / Staff reporter
Democratic Progressive Party Secretary-General Luo Wen-chia （羅文嘉） and Hong Kong bookseller Lam Wing-kei （林榮基） yesterday discussed the right to political protest at a public event, at which Lam also announced his plan to open a bookstore in Taipei.
Billed as “A Dialogue Between Two Bookstore Bosses,” Luo and Lam discussed politics, democracy, repression by China and promoting reading among the youth under the theme: “Today Hong Kong, Tomorrow Taiwan?”
Operating a bookstore under an oppressive regime is very dangerous, said Luo, who also owns Buffalo Bookstore, the venue for the dialogue.
As the founder of Causeway Bay Books in Hong Kong, Lam stocked political books, Luo said, adding that Lam was arrested in 2015 when crossing the border into Shenzhen, and was detained and tortured by Chinese authorities for eight months.
“This is why [Hong Kong] protesters are fighting against the extradition bill, because China kidnapped Lam illegally... From this case, people there realized that China’s promise of ‘one country, two systems’ was impossible, and they see the bill as a way for Chinese authorities to legitimize such illegal kidnappings,” Luo said.
“Many Hong Kongers said they are now under darkness, but are hoping to return to the sunshine. We must wonder why there are Taiwanese who are living in the sunshine, but want to live in darkness,” Luo said.
Lam said he plans to open a bookstore in Taipei’s Ximending （西門町）, because it is a popular area for young people.
“Taiwan’s youth are looking at their mobile phones all the time. If they do not read books, they will not have a good understanding of the outside world, which ... poses a grave danger for Taiwan’s future,” Lam said.
His vision is to open a bookstore where people can connect.
“It could become a place for academics, youths and students to communicate and interact with each other, so it would not just be for selling books,” Lam said.
Lam said that his Taiwanese visa expires next month, “but I know I cannot go back to Hong Kong.”
He said he hopes the government would let him stay and open a bookstore.
“Bookstores are small, and difficult to manage and keep going, but ruling regimes are fearful of them, because a bookstore has its own soul and its own thoughts,” Luo said. “It would be Taiwan’s good fortune if Lam opened his store in Taipei.”
Buffalo Bookstore owner and Democratic Progressive Party Secretary-General Luo Wen-jia, left, and Causeway Bay Books founder Lam Wing-kei hold a dialogue in Taipei yesterday under the theme: “Today Hong Kong, tomorrow Taiwan?” Photo: George Tsorng, Taipei Times