HONG KONG (AFP) –
As attendance at Hong Kong’s traditional protest rallies wanes, one pro-democracy group is trying to win hearts and minds in a more pragmatic way — through plumbing, electrics and household repairs.
Calling themselves Fixing Hong Kong, the group’s volunteers mend broken appliances, furniture, pipes and wiring, hoping that forging community spirit will lead to greater political awareness.
The novel approach comes as semi-autonomous Hong Kong’s freedoms are under threat from an increasingly assertive Beijing and the city’s splintered democracy movement struggles for momentum.
Volunteers visit homes in the To Kwa Wan neighbourhood each week, making appointments for DIY jobs and offering repair services for free, with residents usually paying for their own replacement materials.
They work in pairs, one fixing, the other chatting. Sometimes the conversation will turn to politics, other times not.
“We hope to gather more energy bit by bit through these most simple contacts and bonding,” Fixing Hong Kong member Max Leung told AFP.
Resident Mr Wong said volunteers from the group had fixed his television. They also helped him and others write letters to officials over concerns local people were being rehoused in poor conditions to make way for new development projects.
“Just one person’s power is not enough. We need neighbours joining forces for results,” Wong said.
Another resident Mr Cheng, a wall painter originally from southern mainland China, said he had not discussed politics with the group, but appreciated their help.
A volunteer was fixing a broken strip light in his apartment when AFP visited.
Cheng’s flat is housed in one of numerous rundown blocks…