Hong Kong: A ‘Bar Bender’ in the movement

20 November 2019 09:08

A construction worker who specialized in bar bending and fixing, ‘Bar Bender’ Ka-Chi Yip regarded himself as a peaceful protester. After the Umbrella Movement, he felt the social movements are plunged into the doldrums. Few people turned up for the movements such as ‘anti-co-location arrangement’ or ‘anti-amendments to the Rules of Procedure’. The disqualification of several elected legislators and the plentiful imprisonments of activists due to political prosecutions, as well as the defeat of Cheuk-Yan Lee, make Yip feel nothing but disappointment. Therefore, Ka-Chi took the negative view that the anti-extradition movement would achieve nothing. 

Although Ka-Chi was pessimistic, he didn’t stop. He took part in most of the peaceful marches. ‘I joined the march on March 31. There were 13,000 people. It was poorly attended, given the severity of the extradition bill.’ Even the march on April 28, which took place after the nine defendants in the 2014 Occupy Movement were convicted, ‘130,000 people attended, it was a really small turnout, far from enough.’ Then he joined the demonstrations on June 9 and June 16 with his elderly parents. ‘June 12 is the turning point, on that day my mother urged me not to go to Admiralty because of the danger. I said that my job as a “bar bender” is also dangerous, my chance of dying at work is high. Going to Admiralty is not that scary. She did not stop me. She knew that I was right.’'

“On June 12, I recalled that we said ‘We'll be back’ on the last day of the Umbrella Movement. We finally came back.’ No one knows that it is a group of protesters who have evolved and came back. ‘I do not completely understand and identify with everything the militant protesters does. But I looked back on the incidents on June 12, it is indeed the radical actions that ended the meeting.”

“Hong Kong had everything, the Four Heavenly Kings (popstars), public estates, economy, it was glorious. But when it comes to our generation, we live in an untimely moment. It seems that everything has changed, everything is gone. I feel very disgruntled for Hong Kong. Does Hong Kong have a future? “Smart” lampposts, “Lantau Tomorrow Vision”, why should we live in such a Hong Kong?’ We are used to comparing Hong Kong with the Mainland, Ka-Chi has read some books on Tibetan history, ‘my favourite is “1959, Lhasa!”. When the Communist Party of China took over Tibet, they did not take over everything immediately. The CPC signed the Seventeen Point Agreement with the Tibetan Government, guaranteed the autonomy of Tibet. But we all know what happened next, the CPC committed the massacre in Tibet and extinguished the right of autonomy of Tibet.”

From pessimistic to the indignant and sorrowful summer of uprisings, Ka-Chi thought about the film ‘1987 When The Day Comes’, “when the thug-like police in the movie killed a protester, every character performs their duties and takes small steps, and they change the course of history. The good police follow the rule, the young girl brings the piece of evidence to the church… everyone takes small steps, it is good enough!”

This article was originally posted on the Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Union website.  It is reposted here with the permission of the HKCTU.