Since the implementation of the National Security Law in Hong Kong, Hongkongers have scattered worldwide to build a new safe home.
They continue their fight for freedom and justice in Hong Kong.
Due to political views, the Beijing government has banished many artists from the Chinese market, forcing them to depart from their homes.
Like many Hongkongers, Fiona Yellow, a migrant in Canada, decided to give up her business, so she could continue speaking for justice and democracy for Hongkongers.
Co-founders of the pro-democracy online radio station “Hongkonger Station,” Fiona and Joseph Tay, a Hong Kong singer, amplify their messages through the airwaves.
The democratic duo was a happy coincidence. It all began with a story about a local Chinese restaurant.
How the Story Began
At the beginning of December 2020, Fiona found out that the owner of a Chinese restaurant in the north of Toronto, a Hongkonger, was attacked verbally due to his democratic support; his restaurant was vandalized. Unfortunately, local media did not pick up on the incident. They did not seem to care much about what happened.
Fiona decided to interview the restaurant owner and see for herself. After Fiona exposed the incident, it got more attention as the local citizens pressured the mainstream media channels. Eventually, more reporters reported the incident before the police got involved.
The incident made her wonder, “Many Hong Kong organizations knew about the incident. Yet, everyone stayed silent. It made me feel helpless.”
The incident also made Fiona realize there aren’t any real authentic media that talk about Hong Kong events in Canada.
Therefore, Fiona founded the Hongkonger Station in Canada along with Joseph Tay. Fiona considered Tay and herself as two peas in a pod. She became a radio host at the station and an unofficial spokesperson for Hongkongers. Fiona proactively contacted different community members in the hope of supporting overseas Hongkongers to move forward together.
Between trying to gain business clients and being politically pressed, Fiona chose to stay true to herself and help any fellow Hongkonger who might come her way. She believes that helping others is helping oneself.
In the free society of Canada, Fiona felt more determined than ever to remember her roots. She felt that as long as she had a voice, she would continue to fight for justice.
Moving the Movement
Fiona has been a media person since she was 22. At the time, she was working at a Chinese media company in Canada. That was Fiona’s first partnership with Joseph Tay on a talk show.
Six years flew by.
Fiona returned to Hong Kong and started a public relations business.
Unexpectedly, she crossed paths with Tay many years later, and the two made history by starting the “Hongkonger Station” in Canada.
The industry she left many years ago found its way back to Fiona’s heart again.
In 2021, Fiona made a drastic decision. She closed down her PR business in Hong Kong and returned to Canada. Perhaps seeing many democrats, political figures, and activists jailed, Fiona felt called to speak for those who can’t speak for themselves. She moved her life to continue her preaching for Hong Kong in Canada.
Once Fiona grounded her feet on Canadian soil, she proactively promoted a series of Hong Kong-focused events in Canada.
For instance, Fiona organized the World Hong Kong Forum, the Hongkongers Book Fair, and the lantern festival during the Mid-autumn celebration.
The purpose of continually promoting Hong Kong is to encourage migrant Hongkongers to blend into the local community. Only then can Hongkongers bring their culture to wherever they are.
Fire of Conscience
As a multi-role person, Fiona has always carried a fire in every role she plays. She affirmed that using her strength to speak for justice is a calling, and she isn’t shy about giving speeches in public.
Learning the Hard Way
Fiona has been accustomed to being in the public eye as a media professional since 2004. But she was not born this way.
She said her public relations skills did not come naturally. Opening her own business was a great challenge. “I have not always been a rounded person. I had to learn to meet clients from all walks of life, listen to others’ opinions, and do things differently to suit their needs instead of mine. I was full of pride and often complained.”
Getting bumps on the road, Fiona started to reflect on what went wrong and discovered that something was missing: empathy.
Once she started to learn to view from the perspectives of others, everything became smooth sailing. And her clients grew with her.
When Political Views Kill
During the trying time of the 2019 Hong Kong Protests, everyone had to pick a side. Either you are for or against democracy.
Fiona’s company was one of the few that supported the democracy movement openly. Most companies would stay silent to keep their bank accounts safe or clients happy.
She and her company took a stand to support the protesters and responded to the social movement and events. That was when the line of customers began to fade. Who knew defending freedom would kill a business?
Fiona said that her company was selective of clients. “Since we are only a small business, I had more freedom and could choose my clients. I fully stood on the ground of refusing mainland companies or CCP capitalized companies as clients.”
The Final Straw
Fiona recalled losing two long-term clients after taking on the PR campaign project for Chickeeduck’s owner Chow Siu-lung when he decided to run in the LegCo election in 2020. To any business, supporting a democrat was a high-risk project.
“When the clients left, you know why without being told why,” Fiona said. Fiona had to choose freedom or money.
In the past two years, Fiona might have lost many clients. However, supporting democracy is a conscious choice for the PR expert.
“I will never regret standing up for my beliefs,” Fiona affirmed when asked if she regretted being crystal clear on her political preference.
A Hidden Talent Uncovered
While PR and illustration might seem unrelated, it was a surprising discovery during the time Fiona had trouble sleeping. So whenever she couldn’t sleep, she would try and craft some illustrations to express her emotions.
Drawing was a way to soothe her feelings.
“To be honest, initially, illustration was just a hobby. I never imagined it could become part of my career. It was unexpected.” Fiona shared.
Not long after she shared her work on social media, a cosmetic brand reached out to her for a project. The validation from her clients gave her more motivation to become better at her “hobby.”
Twisting and Turning
The shaken society kept Fiona twisting and turning at night. Her work became the antidote to her feeling of emotional trauma, the pain she couldn’t express otherwise. Reflecting on what was happening in Hong Kong, Fiona began to illustrate the social events.
At first, Fiona didn’t want her artwork to see the light. Her other pea in the pod, co-host Joseph Tay encouraged her to share her work with the public. Many people started to take an interest in Fiona’s art, which is how being an illustrator became a part of her many roles.
Witnessing many creative people being pushed out of Hong Kong due to the National Scrutiny Law, Fiona’s heart ached. But the twisting pain made her cherish her freedom in Canada even more, and she hoped she could continue to speak for Hongkongers through her art.
Turn Strength into Strategy
Many people can’t understand why Fiona’s favorite hobby is work. “I enjoy working because I hate wasting time on unconstructive matters,” Fiona explained. Having many successful talents, Fiona wants to turn one of her silent strengths into a vocal strategy for standing with Hongkongers.
Fiona has big plans for the future. “I would like to share my entrepreneurial experience with others. I would love to start a platform where we can discuss time management, enneagram personality, or how to start a business.”
“Entrepreneurship has become dynamic. I hope my experience can help someone out there.”
Looking back, Fiona and her curiosity might have galloped through life for many years, but her conscience is the last thing she would ever lose.
Jenny Zang Contributed to this article.