Hong Kong protests through the eyes of ST photojournalists

Straits Times photojournalists Lim Yaohui (left) and Chong Jun Liang giving a talk yesterday on their experience covering the political unrest in Hong Kong, at the National Museum of Singapore, as part of the Through The Lens photo exhibition organis
Straits Times photojournalists Lim Yaohui (left) and Chong Jun Liang giving a talk yesterday on their experience covering the political unrest in Hong Kong, at the National Museum of Singapore, as part of the Through The Lens photo exhibition organised by The Straits Times.ST PHOTO: STEPHANIE YEOW

Straits Times photojournalist Lim Yaohui sprang into action within a day when he was asked to fly to Hong Kong to cover the protests in June.

With whatever time he had, Mr Lim, 37, searched for information on the growing unrest through Facebook groups and news outlets.

Though he was armed with basic information, he was shocked by what he saw when he arrived. Total chaos greeted him at the protests, which are the result of a proposed extradition law, recalled Mr Lim.

He was speaking to an audience of more than 150 people at a talk titled The Hong Kong Protest In Pictures.

"At Victoria Park, I knew I had to find a vantage point to show the protesters. What I saw gave me goosebumps," he said of the sight of thousands of protesters marching on a road outside Victoria Park.

"The photo made the front pages the next day."

Mr Lim and fellow ST photographer Chong Jun Liang, 38, shared their experience and challenges documenting the Hong Kong protests during the talk held at the National Museum of Singapore yesterday.

The talk is part of a photo exhibition organised by The Straits Times called Through The Lens.

 
 

Mr Lim has been a photojournalist for more than seven years, and Mr Chong for 12 years.

In Hong Kong, getting tear-gassed, pepper-sprayed and accidentally beaten up by police was all in a day's work for the photojournalists.

While navigating the hazards of the protests, they still had to make sure they captured the powerful images of the scenes unfolding before them. Often, they had to climb barricades, railings and rooftops just to get the perfect shot.

On July 6, Mr Chong took over from Mr Lim and spent about seven weeks in Hong Kong between July and this month.


A protester smashing a glass panel of the Legislative Council building in Hong Kong on July 1, 2019, the anniversary of the city’s handover to Chinese rule. ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI


Members of the media outside the Legislative Council building in Hong Kong on July 1, 2019. ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI

By then, Mr Chong had to wear a full-face gas mask and helmet at protests to protect himself against acts of violence from both protesters and the police.

He said protesters trampled on Chinese flags and started fires in front of shops and in streets.

 
 
 

Hong Kong police firing tear gas to disperse protesters was an everyday occurrence, he added.

Pictures taken of the Hong Kong protests by both photojournalists can be viewed at the Through The Lens exhibition, which features the works of Singapore and international photojournalists over the past two years.

The free exhibition ends today and includes the World Press Photo Exhibition, which features 157 prize-winning entries from around the world submitted to the non-profit organisation's annual competition.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on October 27, 2019, with the headline 'HK protests through the eyes of ST photojournalists'. Print Edition | Subscribe