Flushed out: civil servant is author of toilet guide

Crusader trying to spread HK values to the mainland endures online taunts of 'traitor'

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 06 May, 2014, 3:47am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 06 May, 2014, 7:38am

"Have you ever cried for Hong Kong?" Stephen Hui Chi-hang recites a question he encountered in an online article a few days ago - then answers it.

"I have," he says. The ever-more crowded streets, sky-high rents, widening gap between rich and poor and crumbling rule of law have apparently all given him cause to weep.

Hui - a pseudonym he uses due to the fact he is a civil servant and not authorised to speak to the media - has been an active Weibo user for two years with a personal mission to get the city's values across to mainlanders via the mainland's most popular social media platform.

He believes Hong Kong can act as a guiding light for the mainland, and by doing so lessen the risk that its own culture and beliefs will be lost in the push for integration. Still, his efforts had not had much impact, he admits. That was, until his guidebook to finding toilets in Hong Kong went viral on Weibo.

Mainlanders voiced appreciation of his effort to help rather than criticise people like the couple embroiled in a row after letting their toddler relieve himself in a crowded Mong Kong street. However, many Hongkongers have described him as a "traitor" for trying to please mainlanders.

A frequenter of Golden Forum, the most popular haunt among local geeks, angry youths and radicals, the 33-year-old civil servant says he was only trying to calm mainlanders down so that "we can reason with them".

Hui's crusade began during the 2012 campaign against the national education curriculum, which was eventually shelved. He grew disheartened by mainlanders running down the protesters on Weibo, but then he encountered a Beijing artist's posts voicing support for the campaign.

"When I saw a person in Beijing defending Hong Kong, I started to ask myself why, as a Hongkonger, I stayed silent," he says. After many of his posts were "hidden" or deleted on Weibo, Hui figured out effective ways of getting his ideas across on the censored platform.

Last week, when mainland users were mourning the two firefighters who died in a blazing Shanghai skyscraper, he posted information about Hong Kong's 1996 fire in the Garley building, Jordan, that killed 41 and injured 81.

A census of all buildings across the city was completed days after the fire, and the government strengthened laws relating to building upgrades and set up a special police team to provide additional support.

"I hope to spread the Hong Kong way of doing things and let people know what the government can do to avoid such tragedies," he says.

Hui, who came to Hong Kong in 1995 from Shandong province, says freedom of information and exposure to it helped him a passionate Hongkonger.