A Hong Kong children’s clothing store has been warned to remove a pro-democracy Lady Liberty statue by the shopping centre’s management company, citing a lack of prior approval and inconsistency with the lease agreement. The mall belongs to a local property conglomerate that publicly voiced support for the police and city’s leader during last year’s protests and unrest.
On Tuesday evening, a Chickeeduck branch at D Park in Tsuen Wan installed a 2-metre tall statue affiliated with the city’s year-long pro-democracy protests. The fixture portrays a female demonstrator wearing familiar protest gear, including a helmet, respirator and goggles. She has an umbrella in one hand, while raising a flag that reads “Liberate Hong Kong, revolution of our times” on the other.
The store also put up a “Lennon Wall” and provided memo stickers for people to leave messages. There was another table of children books about politics, covering topics such as democracy, totalitarianism and the social class system.
The children’s wear retailer received a written warning from the mall the next day ordering it to remove the display until it is approved by the property management.
According to a letter from the mall circulated online, the management said the decoration and design of the shop should receive prior written approval from the landlord. The decoration should also meet a standard of a “first-class shopping centre… to the satisfaction of the landlord.”
The management said the exhibition was “inconsistent” with the permitted use as set out in the tenancy agreement with the children’s clothing store. It also cited the Places of Public Entertainment Ordinance, saying the shop should obtain a license beforehand to ensure general public safety.
“Based on the above, before you obtain our approval of your provision of the relevant licence and your clarification of the Exhibition is in line with the Permitted Use, you are hereby requested to remove the statute immediately,” it said.
HKFP has reached out to D-Park for comment.
The Tsuen Wan mall is part of New World Development. The property conglomerate issued a statement opposing “violent behaviour” last August, during the peak of the anti-extradition bill protests which erupted last June.
Following the warning from D Park, customers waited in line to visit the store on Wednesday night. A group of citizens also staged a brief protest outside the mall, in opposition to the protest-related exhibition as a group of police officers stood on standby outside the mall.
Speaking to reporters outside the store on Wednesday night, the brand founder Herbert Chow said the intention of displaying the statue was to provide a “heartwarming family interaction for advocating democracy.” He said the shop informed the mall about the exhibition last Wednesday with photos attached, but had not received a reply by Tuesday.
When asked how likely it was that the store could retain the display, Chow said: “It will be a challenge. We will have to communicate with the landlord. I hope under reasonable circumstances, they will let us put the [statue] here.”