Pro-democracy banner hung from Lion Rock has officials scrambling
A group of rock climbers hung a huge yellow banner - reading "I want real universal suffrage" - from the highest point of Lion Rock yesterday to show support for the democracy movement.
As of late afternoon, the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department said it was still studying how to remove the banner, as the path to the rock's jagged face is rough and difficult to access.
Images of the banner - and memes that it inspired - exploded on social media. The climbers' nerve prompted posts on social media with images of cartoon lions and a house cat wearing a yellow banner.
A group calling itself The Hong Kong Spidie, after comic book hero Spiderman, claimed responsibility for the stunt. A video online showed how the climbers hung the banner, which they said is six metres by 28 metres.
"Today we are occupying Lion Rock," a man dressed as Spiderman says on camera. He adds that that he was shocked to hear Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying's published remarks to reporters on Monday that open elections could not be allowed because poor people would then have too much power in politics.
"The chief executive only cares about the rich people living on Victoria Peak," the man says on camera. "We think the spirit of Lion Rock isn't just about money.
"The people fighting for real universal suffrage all over Hong Kong have shown great perseverance. This kind of fighting against injustice, strength in the face of troubles, is the true Lion Rock spirit."
Many in the city associate the "Lion Rock spirit" with striving for a better life - as embodied in 1970s RTHK drama Under the Lion Rock and its title song.
A man who identified himself as one of the climbers, and who gave his name as Andreas, said the action was planned a week ago. A group of 14 climbers spent a few hours in the morning carrying out the stunt, he said.
Conservation officials said an investigation was under way.
Displaying any sign, notice, poster, banner or advertisement within a country park without a permit is punishable by a fine of up to HK$2,000 fine and up to three months' imprisonment.
Police had not contacted the climbers, Andreas said.
Andreas, who said he was a retail salesman in his 20s, was encouraged by the positive responses. "This is only a moderate expression of our support for the Occupy movement," he said. "We are not storming buildings or disturbing anyone's daily life."
Occupy protesters also received support in more prosaic ways. More than 1,300 civil servants wrote an open letter to Chinese-language newspaper Ming Pao supporting the protesters.
The open letter said that an earlier statement by two government staff unions - the Government Employees Association and the Hong Kong Civil Servants General Union - which denounced the Occupy movement did not represent them.