SCMP, November 3, 2002 Inappropriate and insensitive references to Adolf Hitler are nothing new in Asia. In Hong Kong, however, their use sometimes appears to have been elevated to an art form. The Pacific Coffee chain angered the Israeli Consulate-General in July by putting a quote from Hitler - 'Their victor never, never be asked if he told the truth' - on the Thought For The Day blackboards above its counters. Staff seemed bemused by the protest, although they later issued an abject apology. Germany's Consulate-General had earlier complained when a popular SAR newspaper published a poster of the German World Cup soccer team featuring Hitler's image in the centre of the player portraits. The paper apologised and said it had been trying to portray German strength. Television station ATV also once rode rough-shod over sensitivities about the Nazi era by running a promotion suggesting that if Hitler had advertised with them, his dream of world domination might have been realised. The Holocaust took place far from Hong Kong and it is not surprising that a blackboard message-writer in Pacific Coffee or an advertising copy writer at ATV might unwittingly cause offence by glibly using Hitler's name or words. But when it comes to a senior government official talking on an issue as potentially explosive as Article 23 legislation, the excuses are harder to come by. Secretary for Security Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee told a students' forum last Monday: 'Don't believe democracy will be a panacea. Adolf Hitler was returned by universal suffrage and he killed seven million Jews.' Her remarks are historically inaccurate. Hitler manipulated the democratic process of 1930s Germany to seize power after losing a presidential election to Paul von Hindenburg. He used that power to crush his opponents. More importantly, though, it is hard to think of a less appropriate comparison than Hitler's Germany to draw in the context of a debate on legislation which Hong Kong people fear may compromise their rights and freedoms. Mrs Ip's remark was made in response to a question about whether Hong Kong had the safeguards to prevent abuse of anti-sedition laws when it lacked full democracy. Her reply did little to ease fears about Article 23, and much to bring into question the government's willingness to broaden democracy. Hong Kong people have a right to expect more diplomacy and sensitivity from their top officials. Chief Executive Tung Chee-hwa should demand it too, before attention is diverted from the Article 23 debate by further embarrassing sideshows. Glossary elevate (v) to be discussed at a higher moral, cultural or intellectual level abject (adj) showing humiliation and submissiveness ride rough-shod over (idiom) to treat cruelly and with force glibly (adj) showing little thought or preparation panacea (n) a remedy for all evils\t\tor problems Discussion points ? Why did the editorial say that Mrs Ip has used an inappropriate analogy of Hitler's Germany when she spoke about Article 23 of the Basic Law? ? What is the historical inaccuracy mentioned in the editorial? ? In your opinion, how can we be more sensitive?