Hong Kong police have arrested an elderly pro-democracy activist on suspicion of breaching country park regulations, after he displayed a pair of Chinese banners on the Lion Rock ahead of Mid-Autumn festival. Chinese couplets are vertical scrolls showing lines of poetry, often around doorways.

grandpa chan
Elderly activist Chan Ki-kau, also known as Grandpa Chan. Photo: Grandpa Chan, via Facebook.

Chan Ki-kau – in his 70s and known as “Grandpa Chan” of a 2019 protest group called Protect Our Kids – was apprehended in Sheung Shui on Thursday, police said. The arrest came after police noticed reports online that a man had displayed signs on Lion Rock on September 28.

A picture on Chan’s Facebook page showed him on Lion Rock holding two scrolls with a Chinese couplet penned by Chinese writer Lu Xun, according to a photo shared by local media outlets. The couplet can be translated as “fierce-browed, I coolly defy a thousand pointing fingers. Head bowed like a willing ox, I serve the children.”

Chan was suspected of violating the Country Parks and Special Areas Regulations. The regulations state that visitors cannot display signs, notices, posters, banners or advertisements in places under the regulations unless they have permission.

Lion Rock
Lion Rock. Photo: Warren R.M. Stuart, via Flickr.

Offenders face a fine of up to HK$2,000 and three years imprisonment.

The photo could not be found on his Facebook page when HKFP checked on Sunday afternoon, but a shot that appeared to show Chan was distributed elsewhere online.

Chan Ki-kau
Chan Ki-kau atop Lion Rock with a couplet that can be translated as “fierce-browed, I coolly defy a thousand pointing fingers. Head bowed like a willing ox, I serve the children.”

He was released on bail and must report back to police in early November.

The activist was often spotted urging calm on the frontlines of demonstrations in 2019, when the city saw protests and unrest sparked by a controversial extradition bill. He also took part in a hunger strike during the early days of the movement.

In January, Chan was ordered to pay around HK$510,000 to the Department of Justice after his application to launch a legal bid against the police over their display of identification during the 2019 protests was dismissed by court.

Chan’s challenge alleged that it was unlawful for police in the Special Tactical Contingent unit, known as “raptors,” to be allowed not to display individual identification numbers while policing.

Correction 4 pm on 9/10/2023: An earlier version of this article incorrectly gave Chan Ki-kau’s age as 76 and 79, we regret the error.

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Hillary Leung is a journalist at Hong Kong Free Press, where she reports on local politics and social issues, and assists with editing. Since joining in late 2021, she has covered the Covid-19 pandemic, political court cases including the 47 democrats national security trial, and challenges faced by minority communities.

Born and raised in Hong Kong, Hillary completed her undergraduate degree in journalism and sociology at the University of Hong Kong. She worked at TIME Magazine in 2019, where she wrote about Asia and overnight US news before turning her focus to the protests that began that summer. At Coconuts Hong Kong, she covered general news and wrote features, including about a Black Lives Matter march that drew controversy amid the local pro-democracy movement and two sisters who were born to a domestic worker and lived undocumented for 30 years in Hong Kong.