High time to raise banners' standards

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 24 August, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 24 August, 2011, 12:00am


The government plans to remove all public-notice banners from partitions in the middle of Hong Kong's roads. Politicians and political parties will not like it because they put up most of them. But the officials are right to do this. Their reason is that the signs block the view of drivers making turns.

But what about political banners found on roadside fences? There is no plan to remove them. Granted, they do not pose a traffic hazard, but they are often a permanent eyesore.

Some have been left there for a long time, advertising events or forums that have long since been held. Some begin to decay and rot. No one dares remove them because they are legally protected; and any official removal will spark howls of protest about the suppression of free speech. In effect, they can only be removed, maintained or cleaned by party workers themselves.

That's why many political parties and many independents often don't bother to make sure their banners are in good condition or up to date. They enjoy virtual impunity to put up banners with whatever messages they choose for however long they want.

Political groups from both the left and right are guilty of such abuses. To be sure, some are more culpable than others. But a better standard about the upkeep of these giant banners is in order.

The political reality is that the government is afraid of taking on the parties over what is perceived to be a minor issue. Politicians therefore should exercise more self-restraint and better judgment. Banners advertising events that take place at a definite date should be taken down afterwards. Outdated messages should be changed, and old and decaying banners should be taken down.