Little Spiders Chiseled the New Lion Rock Spirit
This isn’t 1979’s “Below the Lion Rock”; this is 2014’s “Above the Lion Rock”. People no longer sing below the mountain. Instead, they decided to go up the mountain to hang a banner.
14 people participated in the hanging of the banner. They’re A,B,C,D,E,F,G,H,I,J,K,L,M, and N. All of them are Hongkongers between the ages of 20 to 40. They all speak Cantonese with “relaxed pronunciation”*, know how to sing the song “The Boundless Sea and Sky“, and use Facebook..
(*Relaxed pronunciation in Cantonese: Speakers interchange initial consonants n and l, final consonants t and k, and nasal consonants n and ng.)
Among the 14 people, some know each other while some don’t. They spent a week buying fabrics and paint. Together, they made the banner with the dimensions 8m x 26m saying “I want real universal suffrage”. During that period, they argued over the wording of the banner. Sometimes, they vented their anger by badmouthing each other.
Finally, at around 11 am on Thursday, they officially hung the banner on the steep cliff of the Lion Rock Mountain, facing this generation of Hongkongers.
Having accomplished the mission, the 14 anonymous warriors uploaded a short clip to YouTube to claim the responsibility for the action. They called themselves “Little Spiders”, who are “completely ordinary Hongkongers”.
The banner, after having been erected for 24 hours, was finally removed . A, B, C, D, F, G, H, I, J, K, L, M, and N each watched on TV that the firefighters walked the same path that they walked yesterday and took away the banner. Many people who had watched the live news were unhappy with its removal. Yet, watching the news, “Little Spiders” had the last laugh .
I gave “Little Spiders” a call and said, “Firefighters had quickly removed the banner. I feel like crying,” “Little Spiders” replied, “Let them remove it. Don’t feel sad over it. Wherever we are, we can always put up the real election banner again.”
I asked, “For example?” “Little Spiders” replied, “On the drying racks, on the walls of classrooms or even on one’s forehead.”
Right, every Hongkonger is a Lion Rock Mountain.
The Power of the 14 “Little Spiders”
The 14 people gathered together at 7 am on Thursday and arrived at the Lion Rock Mountain at 8 am. The banner they made weighed 10 kg. Each climbing rope they used was 60 meters long. Everyone held their breath and concentrated on their tasks. It was a cloudy, humid and stormy day. On the granite covered a thin layer of water, therefore they must pay extra attention to it. 5 people abseiled down the steep cliff one by one and slowly clipped the ropes to the edges of the banner. When the banner was unfurled, revealing the two words “I want”, more and more hikers arrived. Some of them gossiped about it. Little spiders remained silent and worked carefully. Several people who helped shoot the short film stood on another mountain top filming each and every move of the climbers.
When most part of the banner was unfurled, the only “Little Spider” who brought a cellphone with him couldn’t help checking his Facebook. Terrified by his Facebook’s news feed, he shouted, “Whoa! The news is out!” First, he saw singer Denise Ho Wan-sze shared the news. Then, he scrolled further down the news feed and was shocked to find that the photos of the Lion Rock Mountain’s banner flooded Hong Kong’s Facebook. “I was so touched by the success! My spirit lifted!“ Not until the moment did we realize that we had done it right. We wanted to cheer up everyone. It seems that we succeeded. ”
“Worst Case Scenario”
The process was smooth until 11 am. When they were about to finish hanging the banners, they received the information that someone called the police. At the foot of the mountain, large numbers of police officers were setting out to the mountain top, “I began to feel scared at that moment. Someone was still at the bottom of the banner and had yet climbed back up.” Andreas said. They decided that if they failed to retreat in time, they wouldn’t allow the police officers to touch neither the banner nor the climbing ropes. As for the penalty, he had known nothing about it until he checked his Facebook afterward. “I was told that the penalties for the offence are 3 month’s imprisonment and a $3000 fine.” said Andreas, stressing on the word “and”. When being asked the consensus of the 14 people, he answered, “I had prepared for the worst case scenario. Yet, it didn’t mean that we would just stood still and let the police arrest us.”
I was really sacred when the police officers questioned me.
Andreas was one of the people who were responsible for guarding the climbing ropes. Therefore, he had to stay until the last climber climbed back up the mountain. However, at that moment, the police outflanked them at the foot of the mountain. Having accomplished the mission, the 14 people fled stealthily and pretended that they were totally strangers. While he was going down the mountain with his backpack, he ran into 3 uniformed and 2 plainclothes police officers. One police officer asked, “Are you the one who hung the banner?” He replied, “I’m just hiking.” Meanwhile, another plainclothes officer who got a big belly and was holding a camera panted, “Don’t go up to the mountain again! It’s difficult to go up to there!”
He ducked his head down and slipped away immediately, shaking with fear. “Being caught red handed. I was so scared.” said he. On the way, he ran across several people who looked like staffs of the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department (AFCD). They blamed each other for shirking their responsibilities and making them late. “Everyone’s face has turned green because of the brisk walking.” Next, he saw a flock of reporters. There were around six to seven motorbikes. He even bumped into the hikers he met on the mountain. Scared, he dared not to raise his head up.
The process was full of surprises and dangers.
Andreas is the representative of the 14 “Little Spiders”. In the YouTube video, the one in the Spider-man costume was him. As he speaks with relaxed pronunciation, it’s easy to recognize him. He even blames himself for speaking that way, “In fact, some people commented that I speak with relaxed pronunciation. I should have learned better Cantonese diction.”
I sat next to this tall post-80’s man on the lawn in Tamar Park. It had been a dozen of hours since the morning on the Lion Rock Mountain. However, he still looked energetic. Meanwhile, his cell phone rang over 30 times. All the phone calls were from journalists. He said, “The journalists are really crazy. They keep bombarding me with calls. It’s so weird that an average Joe suddenly got inundated by requests from journalists.”
The “Little Spiders” are from the music, academic and social services communities. Some are average Joes; some might be recognized by the public; some are experts in climbing; some just like hiking. The 14 people gathered together one week before. 5 people were responsible for climbing. They made the banner themselves. As they were total newbies, sometimes they messed things up. “We aren’t Long Hair (a Hong Kong activist)! We had never done things demanding that much cooperation.”
It’s extremely hard to write the characters onto the banner
The most difficult part of the banner-making is to calculate the sizes of the characters and draft their outlines. “The banner was so big that we couldn’t work on it unfurled. Therefore, we weren’t sure if it looked OK.“ said Andreas.They projected the characters onto the banner. Then, they sketched the characters with pencils. At last, they colored the characters one by one. They spent 2 days and 2 nights on the banner. “It was so exhausting that we thought we couldn’t do it.”
During that period, the biggest argument was which slogans to use. They had thought of some “shocking” sentences; they had also thought of satirical ones slandering Leung Chun-ying. However, they finally decided that putting Leung up on the Lion Rock Mountain would be a big waste of their hard effort.
“I want real universal suffrage. It’s just that simple.”
“At first, we thought that ‘I want real universal suffrage’ would sound too ordinary. At last, we came around to the fact that the movement had lost its focus. We hope to refocus it by speaking out our original intention. Whether the slogan is old-fashioned shouldn’t be a consideration. We want real democracy. It’s just that simple.”
The tear gas incident was his first battle; the Lion Rock Mountain’s banner was his second.
The day after the Liberate Lion Mountain Movement, which made a splash on Hong Kong’s Facebook and in Hong Kong, Andreas wore the Spider-man costume again. Squatting on a stone flowerbed in front of the HKSAR Headquarters, aka “The Always Open Door”, Andreas let journalists take photos of him. Initially, “Little Spiders” wanted to pick V to represent them. However, as the society constantly smears the image of V, they picked the Spider-man instead. “We don’t want to be seen as aggressive. This is not our original intention. We picked the Spider-man as our avenger because we don’t want to be hailed as heroes. We simply do what we are good at and we’ll continue to cheer up the protesters. ”
Andreas graduated with a major in philosophy. His mother always bombarded him with lengthy anti-occupation essays like “Why do your children shouldn’t Occupy Central” on WeChat. Therefore, in this month, when he returned home. he would keep quiet when having meals and answer his mother laconically. For him, hanging the banner on the Lion Rock Mountain is his second sublime experience. His first sublime experience is the tear gas incident on Sep 28. On that day, he didn’t turn his eyes off his cell phone. Learning that tear gas was deployed, he said, “Insane.” Then, he told his boss that he had to leave. He didn’t even look back at his boss.
I woke up. I cried. I returned to the place where tear gas was deployed.
He went to Connaught Road with goggles and face masks in his backpack. In there, holding his camera, he climbed up a curb. While he was switching his camera to the manual mode. there was a bang. Through the lens, he saw a huge cloud, which he believed it wouldn’t reach him that quick. However, in the next moment, he couldn’t open his eyes. Meanwhile, Ah Ngau (Bull, the nickname of activist Tsang Kin-shing), who was holding a megaphone, walked past him, and told protesters to stay calm and not to run. Despite all his efforts, Andreas could only see a line. The only thing he could see was a pair of flip flops worn by Ah Ngau, who was strolling around. “I think he had been teargassed. However, he could still manage to stay calm. He’s a man of steel. So awesome.”
His tears, snot and spittle oozed from his noses and mouth. Many hands out of nowhere gave him water and wet towels. Having rested for a while, he woke up and cried. Yet, he then went back to where the tear gas was deployed. “Every one became so hot-blooded. Everyone cried. But they all walked back to the same place. It was just too surreal.”
“Do you think Hong Kong really has no problems?”
He works as a salesman. After the occupation movement started, whenever he saw customers buying stuffs, he would yell in his heart, “Why do I still selling things here? Hongkongers’ consumption is more than enough, isn’t it? Why do I still selling stuffs here?” Then he found a way to alleviate his guilty feeling. “I cajoled my customers into visiting the occupation sites. Ignorance breeds fear. A Mainland Chinese customer asked me if Sogo (in Causeway Bay) were too dangerous to visit. I guided her, gave her the info about the area and told her to visit there. It’s good to just take a photo. When you go there, you will understand.”
Andrea said he gets frustrated with his career prospects sometimes. “What should I do with my life? My friend is a real estate agent and he has enough money to rent a flat. However, he has no life and only plays video games in his leisure time. “ Andreas only makes a bit more than $10,000 a month. The salary is barely enough. He isn’t optimistic that he will move up in the world. “Not until the moment I was at the top of the Lion Rock Mountain did I start to think what is the Lion Rock Spirit. We work hard, but what do we get in the end? Do you think Hong Kong really has everything? Do you think Hong Kong really has no problems?”
The banner is everywhere
“I want real election” was a banner that was as high as a ten-story building. It appeared on the Lion Rock Mountain at 11 am on Oct 23 and was removed at 1 pm on Oct 24. It weighed 10 kg and was 26 meters in length. After it was removed by the fire department and Civil Aid Service, it was put into a gigantic black plastic bag. “Little Spiders” said they heard that Hongkongers are touched by their action. On the same time, they are also touched by the support of Hongkongers..
As the banner was removed, then we should let the it spread everywhere in Hong Kong – on your windowsill, on your T-shirt, on your backpack, on your forehead – because every Hongkonger is a Lion Rock Mountain.