Many considered Beijing’s recent decision on universal suffrage as bad news for Hong Kong. On Sunday afternoon, Occupy Central called for a march in black clothes to protest against the NPC’s ruling. Organisers estimated the number of attendees between 2,000 and 4,000. According to Reuters, the police said 1,860 marchers took to the streets.
The protesters carried a 500 meter long black cloth through the streets, and voiced their anger at Beijing with choruses and banners. It was designed to resemble a funeral procession.
As known from Occupy Central, everything was neatly organised and geared towards a maximum of media attention. The activists got their message across, the media listened. In search for some other voices, I asked the employees of the luxury shops the march passed about their opinion on the protest. They were leaning against their shop windows and eyed the activists suspiciously, having a break from selling expensive jewellery and luxurious Swiss watches.
“No, no, no. I don’t know anything about it.”
– Chow Tai Fook employee
– Sun Century Watches Ltd. employee
“No, no. Sorry.”
– Balco Swiss Watch employee
– Ho Fook Jade employee
“I don’t know anything.”
– 7/11 employee
At least someone at the 7/11 store should have an answer, I thought. Indeed, an elderly man queuing behind me at the 7/11 counter overheard my question and catched up with me outside the shop. “This is ridiculous,” he screamed and pointed towards the protesters, “this is ridiculous!” These people would not show any respect for leaders and want to destroy Hong Kong, he explained.
Later, outside a sportswear store that sold MMA and boxing gear I met 20-year-old Vladimir – that is not his real name, as he did not want to be named in fear of jeopardizing his future boxing career, and so I thought he’d be happy to be named after one of the Klitschko brothers. He worked as a salesman in the very same shop and was waiting for the column to pass by. He said:
“This is about the Hong Kong government. We recently got some problems. It pisses people off. The government does not hear what the teenagers say. Everything is so expensive now. Some guys come from mainland China. The government did not have the courtesy to stop this. If I want to buy a house now, it takes me ten years. The rich get richer and the poor get poorer. The government is only supported by old people. Some also get 300 dollar to support it on the street. True Hong Kong people support this here!”
Vladimir seemed to sympathise with Occupy Central not because of the movement’s primary objectives, but because he was quite unhappy about the status quo in Hong Kong and yearned for change. Apparently, he saw that possible with Occupy Central.
If the movement can rally all these quiet supporters this autumn, there should be interesting times ahead. One day later, the South China Morning Post writes about public opinion on Occupy Central.