Yellow mask maker shutters amid claims it fires up resistance

Top News | Staff reporter 19 Nov 2020

Democracy movement-linked mask maker Yellow Factory has halted retailing operations after it was accused of challenging the bottom line of the national security law.

The manufacturer is famous for making yellow masks with the acronym "FDNOL" for the familiar protest slogan "Five demands, not one less."

The entrepreneurial face behind the masks went online yesterday to announce a suspension of business in Hong Kong for the time being.

"Yellow Factory does not intend to violate the national security law," a notice read. "We will be making internal adjustments in consideration to our staff and customers and temporarily suspend our operations at our Causeway Bay and Mong Kok stores until further notice."

This came after the establishment camp accused Yellow Factory of firing up resistance with its loud masks.

Legislator Elizabeth Quat of the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong accused Yellow Factory of blowing political dog whistles to promote independence.

She pointed to it using in promotions the slogan "Healing Hong Kong, fighting the pandemic of our times" - a parody of the protest lines "Liberate Hong Kong, revolution of our times."

Pro-Beijing legal scholar Willy Fu Kin-chi pointed out that yellow mask-handling shop owners and staff might breach the national security law and be hit with sedition charges.

Political commentator Bruce Lui Ping-kuen noted the warning is now out on slogans supporting protest being taboo.

The five demands - withdrawal of the fugitive bill, retracting the definition of "riots" for demonstrations, dropping charges against all protesters, setting up an independent inquiry on alleged police brutality, and universal suffrage - do not demand independence, it was noted.

But, as Lui said, "each of the demands has room for interpretation by Beijing, so each can be treated as breaching the national security law if it's taken as an implicit continuation of the anti-fugitive bill movement."

Barrister Albert Luk Wai-hung said parody protest slogans are "testing the limits" of the national security law, so people should beware of legal repercussions if they use one.

As former Demosisto secretary general and activist Joshua Wong Chi-fung reads the slogan situation, pro-establishment politicians are applying double standards when it comes to parodies.

"I saw a parody slogan put up by pro-establishment lawmaker Paul Tse Wai-chun," he said on social media, so shouldn't Quat "report her colleague first?"

Meanwhile, 200 local masks factories are churning out a range of masks with different designs, and some have sought to use cartoons on them to attract buyers, including overseas.

Also yesterday, Secretary for Security John Lee Ka-chiu sidestepped a question on whether the Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements of China breaches the national security law, saying only that all organizations must abide by it.

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