Authorities were called to a popular hiking spot in Hong Kong yesterday, not to rescue an injured outdoorsman, but to remove a gigantic banner voicing opposition to a controversial extradition bill that had appeared on the side of the prominent hilltop.
The banner, which reads “Oppose the Evil Send-to-China Law,” had been spotted on the side of Fei Ngo Shan — also known as Kowloon Peak — yesterday evening, HK01 reports, though the sign wasn’t removed by police and firefighters until 8am this morning.
The banner was reportedly at least 20 meters long and three meters wide.
The Fei Ngo Shan banner wasn’t the first anti-extradition signage to grace the city’s hillsides. According to HKFP, two banners with the same slogan appeared on Beacon Hill and Lion Rock on Sunday morning. The banners were reminiscent of a similar one, hung on Lion Rock in the days after the 2014 Umbrella Movement protests, that read “I want genuine universal suffrage.”
The deeply divisive anti-extradition legislation targeted by the banners would allow, for the first time since the handover, case-by-case extraditions to mainland China, Macau, and Taiwan, which are explicitly forbidden under the city’s current extradition laws.
The plan has sparked huge protests, with activists, businesspeople, and foreign governments expressing fears that permitting such extraditions would further erode Hong Kong’s much-lauded rule of law, and subject both pro-democracy dissenters and unwitting white-collar suspects alike to China’s notoriously opaque court system.
Despite the bill’s unpopularity, pro-Beijing lawmakers have steadfastly persisted in pushing it through the Legislative Council, over the increasingly vehement protests of the LegCo’s pro-democracy camp. On Saturday, things came to a head when lawmakers from the rival factions scuffled with each other in the parliamentary chamber.
The melee began when pro-democracy lawmaker James To was forcibly unseated as the chair of a legislative meeting on the bill by members of the pro-Beijing camp and replaced with their choice of chairman, Abraham Shek.
During the fracas, pro-democracy lawmaker Gary Fan collapsed and was carried out from the chamber on a stretcher, even as one pro-Beijing lawmaker reportedly admonished him to “quit acting.” Others from the pro-Beijing camp also claimed they were injured, and were accused of faking in turn.
One, Ben Chan, hit back at critics who had questioned the unorthodox fashion in which his arm had been put in a sling. In a Facebook post on Saturday, he accused the pro-dems of “using false information to feed their supporters,” and said that his sling, correct or not, had been provided by a member of the LegCo security staff to whom he was “still thankful.”
Dear internet, this pro-government Hong Kong lawmaker said he was injured during the clashes in the legislature today. Have you seen anyone bandaged this way?https://t.co/VRGhcBHXb5https://t.co/EGT1AQ6FdH pic.twitter.com/DdFSEcdDTp
— Phila Siu (Bobby) (@phila_siu) May 11, 2019
This morning, as lawmakers attempted to avoid a repeat of Saturday’s chaotic scenes, the unseated pro-dem chair James To called for a tripartite meeting between his camp, the pro-Beijing camp, and government officials, RTHK reports.
To said there’s no reason why the three sides can’t talk, and that they owed it to the people of Hong Kong to resolve the matter.
The pro-Beijing camp said it would be open to such talks, while it remained unclear whether the administration would also be willing to participate.