Who's more dangerous -- wild boars or humans?
How dangerous is Hong Kong? If you're a wild boar, life in Hong Kong has become considerably more perilous in recent weeks with the decision of the authorities two Fridays ago to kill wild boars which enter urban areas “with a view to reducing their number and nuisance.” This decision came in the wake of an auxiliary police officer having been bitten by a wild boar (that subsequently plunged to its death from a car park!) in Tin Hau the Tuesday before.
At the beginning of this week, an Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department (AFCD) official disclosed that the authorities were contemplating relaunch a license scheme to allow members of the public to hunt wild pigs in a bid to control the boar population in urban areas. He also stated that staff from that department with the word "Conservation" in it were set to operate five times a month to "humanely" euthanise wild boars which entered urban areas.
These developments were greeted with strong outcry from the public (including members of a several thousand Hong Kong Wild Boar Concern Group on Facebook). As Conius of Moo Tweeted: "Wild boars are generally very calm creatures. Give them some space (a lot of space if babies are near), don't feed them, enjoy the encounter - basic rules that allow us to enjoy sharing HK with them. This new AFCD decision is bullshit. Shame on them."
Instead of listening though, the Hong Kong government -- true to form -- decided to just go about and do its own thing anyway, even if it meant the loss of innocent lives. This past Wednesday, the authorities captured and euthanised seven wild boars which, to judge from photos, included young as well as adult boards. Added to the outrage were reports that the animals had been lured out (with food) from a nearby country park and that the nearby urban area where they had been shot (with stun guns) was normally a quiet space which is virtually deserted at night, the usual time of the day that wild boar head out to the area.
In the wake of this tragedy has emerged art work from Hong Kongers that give a good sense of what they feel about this government action. Among them are Ah To's "New Hong Kong" (inspired by a famous Tiananmen Square Massacre photograph) and those that draw clear associations between wild boar and human Hong Kongers, and both their lives and voices being taken lightly by the authorities.
Returning to the question posed at the beginning of this post of "how dangerous in Hong Kong?" The authorities seem in two minds with regards to answering that question with regards to post national security law Hong Kong. And even while Beijing talks about how "the difficult times are now past", such as police stop and searches have, if anything, only increased in recent years in the city.
And days after he was obliged to remove a statue of the late Nobel Peace Laureate, Liu Xiaobo, from the space by one of his stores, Chickeeduck owner Herbert Chow announced that his 31-year-old pro-democracy retail chain will leave the Hong Kong market in the second half of next year citing “disturbances from unknown evil forces”. A reminder: last week was by no means the first time that Chow and Chickeeduck had had a run in with the authorities. For example, "in June last year, Chickeeduck was told to remove a statue of pro-democracy Lady Liberty at a branch at D Park in Tsuen Wan. It later moved out of the store after failing to renew its lease."
As per the Hong Kong Free Press report: "Chow said that the brand’s departure from the Hong Kong market did not mean the company would shut down. He said that he would “take a rest” after an “orderly withdrawing” from Hong Kong, and that he had “no intention to leave” the city." Even so, the decision is a shocking as well as major one, and made after having had to endure no small amount of harassment -- presumably since he openly came out in support of the pro-democracy movement.
As Chow explained, "This decision was not made for me, this decision was made for the company’s staff… considering the daily torture they endured. [More specifically, Chickeeduck] received hundreds of nuisance calls per month during peak hours, he said, while some employees reported “being followed."
At the same time though, Chow maintains that his professional decision is not related to his personal safety. "I took this step not because I was worried that I might get arrested, I never thought that I had violated the law", he insists. The Chickeeduck owner does admit though that "his wife had had told him to “tone [things] down. Still, he said, he "could not stand injustice" and "when it comes to Hong Kong, our home, how can [I] shut up?"