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The price of ‘eternal vigilance’ is boredom

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Some statements sound profound but are actually trite. Speakers often quote them to create an appearance of gravitas. For example, there’s that oft-cited remark about “eternal vigilance”, which is usually attributed to Thomas Jefferson, though scholars generally agree he never said or wrote it.

People as diverse as a retiring High Court judge and a dissident scholar in Hong Kong have recently cited it. It certainly sounds grandiose but it’s not clear what they meant. Perhaps they were merely saying it’s better to be awake than asleep.

At the end of a month-long trial, Benny Tai Yiu-ting, a University of Hong Kong law lecturer, said: “Only through the introduction of genuine universal suffrage could a door be opened to resolving the deep-seated conflicts in Hong........

© South China Morning Post