Oct 4, 2019
MTR -HK’s metro- started as a vital system for the mvmt. But as the regime applied pressure to the co., we watched a once-loved institution bend and crack. We explore the art to see how perceptions of MTR chged thru the mths.
At start of mvmt, MTR was still working for the ppl - it'd send extra trains to disperse crowds after large marches, & its stns provided safe spaces for HKers to chg. We also used the carriages as mobile galleries for our protest art, using real MTR signs as inspiration.
The MTR-art is instantly recognisable for HKers, bcos it's an institution. HKers respected the MTR so much that even up till Aug, strangers wld leave spare chg/tickets for frontliners running from HKPF so that they don't have to do anything 'dodgy' like jump turnstiles. 😅
Things started to unravel Jul 21 (that date comes up a lot, huh?), when thugs stormed a MTR stn & assaulted HKers. Our art paints the MTR as complicit - the co's logo wields weapons menacingly like the thugs, & the MTR-sign art pts out how staff now no longer serve the ppl.
It worsened thru Aug, when MTR allowed HKPF to fire teargas inside stns, contrary to best practices. It also cut off train services to areas right before scheduled protests, effectively bending under the govt's will to prevent HKers from peacefully assembling.
To add insult to injury, while MTR halted service for HKers, it ran special services for HKPF, transporting them to protest sites to arrest folks. That's when 'Party's Transit Railway' came along; our art even made a new logo to show where the co's true loyalties lie.
On Aug 31 HKPF launched an assault on HKers in an MTR stn as the co. held trains at the stn & just let it happen. The violence was so bad that rumors swirl to this day HKPF killed someone - but MTR has staunchly refused to hand over the CCTV tapes which cld clear the air.
That's when HKers realised our MTR was truly gone, and it became a target in protests. Our art shows that shift - stns are now bloodstained, the train is a viper with fangs out & the word 'rail' (also 'iron') 鐵 has merged with the triads and cops into one red-tinged menace.
The sense of a loss of trust, a loss of security is indescribable. HKers have been told in no uncertain terms that a once-beloved institution that we thought served us & gave us freedom of the city, instead is at the beck and call of a regime that wld have us all jailed.
Another notable aspect: MTR makes its $ mostly from operating not trains but malls & real estate. The reaction to MTR's betrayal hits on notion that co.s are happy to fleece HKers in gd times, & leave them as lambs to the slaughter in bad times. That's capitalism for you.
Why does all this matter? Bcos I want to put context to fires you've seen HKers set to MTR stns. Bcos MTR - under CCP's thumb - runs services in the UK, Oz & Sweden. And bcos ... I want ppl to see how quickly institutions can bend and melt away. Don't take yours for granted.