The words “Hong Kong” and ” Independence” which coincidentally appear next to each other on an award-winning government artwork at Sai Kung Waterfront Park have now been covered up — 18 years after the artwork was installed.
Since 2003, the artwork resembling a boat made out of newsprint had coincidentally displayed the words alongside each other.
The fact that flower pots had been strategically placed to cover up the controversial phrase was noticed by urban photography group Empty City on Wednesday.
“Last month it looked fine. This month – apart from repainting – a genius turned the boat into a flower trough and added a few flower troughs, hiding those few words,” the group wrote on its Facebook page, referring to “Hong Kong” and “Independence.”
The boats appeared to have been converted into a flower pot, while an additional smaller flower pot had been installed in front of the four characters.
Architect Raymond Fung designed the installation of fibreglass boats mimicking folded paper boats. It won him the Institute of Architects Annual Awards President’s Prize in 2003.
Fung told the Architectural Services Department in 2005 that he based the artwork on newsprint from World War II as a gesture both to Sai Kung’s history as a fishing village and its role in the fight against the Imperial Japanese Army, which occupied Hong Kong from 1941-45.
The coincidence was brought to the public’s attention by an Apple Daily report in 2017.
The four Chinese characters became a common protest slogan during the 2019 anti-extradition protests, as clashes between protesters and police escalated and discontent against authorities grew.
Such calls for Hong Kong independence are now illegal under the Beijing-imposed national security law promulgated last June as authorities clamped down on political dissent.
HKFP has reached out to the Leisure and Cultural Services Department for comment.