Video protest over divisive Hong Kong vote

Elaine YU
Protesters calling for free leadership elections in Hong Kong attend a pro-democracy rally on March 25, 2017

As a committee weighted towards Beijing gathered Sunday to choose Hong Kong's next leader, ordinary residents posted protest videos online as part of an art project calling for a public vote.

Entitled "No election in Hong Kong now", the collated livestream on Facebook was billed by organisers as a "counter-broadcast".

The collage of images comprises clips submitted by Hongkongers going about their normal business to show their lack of participation in the chief executive election.

The livestream kicked off at 9:00 am local time (0100 GMT) -- the same moment that 1,194 members of Hong Kong's election committee began to cast their ballots at the semi-autonomous city's harbour-front convention centre.

Clips showed footage of residents on buses and trains, watching TV, washing up, or relaxing at home with their pets.

"We're calling for everyone to join us to shoot a live video while the election is taking place to indicate that they are probably just having breakfast, reading a newspaper, sleeping, watching the news and so on, to show that they are not at the voting station, they are just excluded from the election," said artist Sampson Wong.

Part of an art collective known as the "Add Oil Team", Wong said the livestream provided a simple way for people to show their anger, rather than going out onto the streets to protest.

The numbers of people joining pro-democracy rallies have dwindled since massive demonstrations in 2014 calling for free leadership elections in Hong Kong failed to win reform.

"I think people are extremely powerless," Wong said.

"A lot of people are not responding to calls for protest or actions. This is actually an attempt to get people to do something very tiny and very easy," he said.

The team behind the project caused a stir last year when they displayed a giant digital installation on Hong Kong's tallest building to highlight growing fears the city's freedoms are under threat from Beijing.

The installation was a countdown to 2047, the year an agreement guaranteeing Hong Kong's semi-autonomous status, made when Britain handed the city back to China in 1997, will come to an end.

That artwork was cancelled by authorities who said the artists were showing "disrespect".

The display coincided with a highly charged three-day visit by a top Chinese official, Zhang Dejiang.

Also on Sunday morning a massive banner demanding universal suffrage hung from Hong Kong's famous "Lion Rock" hilltop, organised by pro-democracy party League of Social Democrats.

Only a quarter of the committee members choosing Hong Kong's next leader belong to the pro-democracy camp and activists dismiss the vote as an unrepresentative sham.

Three candidates are standing, with former deputy leader Carrie Lam widely seen as Beijing's favourite to win, but intensely disliked by the pro-democracy camp.