Date
18 December 2017
Yao Yiu-wa sold more than 1,000 umbrellas during the street protests and made a HK$1 profit from each sale. Photo: HKEJ
Yao Yiu-wa sold more than 1,000 umbrellas during the street protests and made a HK$1 profit from each sale. Photo: HKEJ

Umbrella Movement: The winners column

Chalk one up for social media, umbrellas and art.

They’re some of the biggest winners in the student-driven street occupation which clocked up an impressive 75 days in Admiralty before it was brought down Thursday by the police.

Since umbrellas were used by protesters to shield themselves from pepper spray at the start of the street protests in late September, they have become a powerful symbol of the democracy movement.

They have also made Yao Yiu-wa popular and a thousand dollars richer.

Yao, who owns a fifth-generation umbrella shop, said he sold more than 1,000 umbrellas for HK$20 (US$2.58) each, making a HK$1 profit from each sale, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reported Friday.

His 172-year-old shop in the old Sham Shui Po district became a magnet for students looking to gear up for the Umbrella Movement.

Yao said he sympathized with the students who were merely speaking up for Hong Kong people and hoped his umbrellas would protect them from the police.

He criticized pro-establishment lawmakers for saying the protesters were using umbrellas as a weapon.

Yao bought his supply from a mainland company and said he often worried that the goods might not make it past customs.

Another winner is social media whose role in monitoring mainstream media made it an important service among the protesters and their supporters.

Websites offering real-time news and photos such as SocREC, USP and inmediahk racked up thousands of followers and kept social media abuzz on Facebook.

Artistic expression flowered in Admiralty, Mong Kok and Causeway Bay.

“Art cannot solve problems but it can showcase problems and raise awareness,” said Kacey Wong, an assistant professor in Hong Kong Polytechnic University.

In that sense, the movement was a success, she said. 

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VW/JP/RA

Freelance journalist

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