Another thing that bores him? The media. Although Wong’s messaging is always on point, his appraisal of journalists in response to my questions is piercing and cheeky. “In 15-minute interviews I know journalists just need soundbites that I’ve repeated lots of times before. So I’ll say things like ‘I have no hope [as regards] the regime but I have hope towards the people.’ Then the journalists will say ‘oh that’s so impressive!’ And I’ll say ‘yes, I’m a poet.’ ”
Raised in a deeply religious family, he used to travel to mainland China every two years with his family and church literally to spread the gospel. As with many Hong Kong Chinese who trace their roots to the mainland, he doesn’t know where his ancestral village is. His lasting memory of his trips across the border is of dirty toilets, he tells me, mid-bite. He turned to activism when he realised praying didn’t help much.
“The gift from God is to have independence of mind and critical thinking; to have our own will and to make our own personal judgments. I don’t link my religious beliefs with my political judgments. Even Carrie Lam is Catholic,” he trails off, in a reference to Hong Kong’s leader. Lam has the lowest approval rating of any chief executive in the history of the city, thanks to her botched handling of the crisis.