People

Pong's personal campaign against property hegemony

Zigzagging his way through the concrete forest of Hong Kong on a bicycle, Mr Pong Yat-ming shows no sign of yielding in his fight against developers

Inspired by indigenous people in North America who campaigned to safeguard their rights to their native land, the 39-year-old freelance teacher and event organiser started his own campaign against the "hegemony of developers" in 2010.

Mr Pong tries his best to avoid using monopolised services and products provided by the city's property giants. Instead, he lives a life that revolves around eating in small-scale eateries, shopping in wet markets and travelling by bicycle. He even washes his clothes by hand to reduce electricity consumption.

Despite his efforts, his campaign thus far has garnered little support.

Dr Chan Hing-lin from the Department of Economics of Hong Kong Baptist University said that Mr Pong's campaign was ineffective as there was little public support.

"The campaign needs greater public participation to be effective," said Dr Chan.

However, instead of putting the blame on the people, Mr Pong said the responsibility lied with society.

"It depends on what choices are available to citizens. And there aren't a lot of them," said Mr Pong. "What I am doing is to provide an alternative for the people."

"It is important to find a way to encourage people to participate in public affairs," Mr Pong said.

For many years, Mr Pong has long had his own utopian vision for Hong Kong – a city where necessities like housing, transportation, electricity, education and medical services will not be treated as commodities because of the involvement of developers.

Ms Mayson Fung Mei-sheung, who has joined the anti-developer campaign, is one of the few who share Mr Pong's concerns. She said that Mr Pong's belief in the power of an individual had a profound impact on her and others.

Ms Fung, who has been supporting Mr Pong's campaign for almost two years, admitted that it was not easy at the beginning.

"I would choose to walk most of the time, which can be inconvenient," said Ms Fung. "But that allows me to observe the city and feel more connected to it."

But Mr Pong did not stop there. He is now running as an independent candidate in the New Territories East in the Legislative Council election in the coming September.

Despite his slim hope of beating the likes of Liberal Party honorary chairman James Tien Pei-chun and "Long Hair" Leung Kwok-hung from the League of Social Democrats, he wants to use the campaign to boost awareness of his cause.

Contrary to conventional campaign strategies, he shouts no slogan, prints minimal amount of leaflets, with recycled papers, uses his bicycle to get around and maintains a lifestyle that boycotts the developers during his election campaign.

While the practical effects of his campaign is questionable, one thing is certain – Mr Pong is determined to persevere with, if not further, his one man battle against developers.

 

Reported by Cleo Tse

Edited by Kristine Lui

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