My Take

Banner row has Hong Kong entering the post-truth era

It’s hard to tell the facts from rumours and conspiracy theories when scanning both pro-establishment and opposition websites and online forums. And the impression is that the only truths are the ones you agree with

PUBLISHED : Monday, 11 September, 2017, 1:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 11 September, 2017, 1:00am

Hong Kong may be entering a post-truth era, too. Scanning the websites and online forums of the opposition and those of pro-establishment circles over the past two weeks, you can hardly tell facts from rumours and conspiracy theories. The impression they give is that the only truths are those that accord with your own political stance.

The rows over offensive banners put up at several university campuses have been the catalyst, though things have been going downhill in this regard for a long time. One common conspiracy theory among radicals and activists is that the big poster congratulating Undersecretary for Education Christine Choi Yuk-lin on the suicide of her 25-year-old son was not put up by Education University students at all. Rather, outside forces used the poster as a “false-flag” operation to discredit the fight by student leaders for freedom of speech and the right to raise issues about Hong Kong independence on university campuses.

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Meanwhile, not a few members of the pro-government camp have speculated that the same university students or others sympathetic to them – rather than nationalistic mainland students – put up campus banners, written in simplified characters, to celebrate the death of Nobel Peace Prize winner Liu Xiaobo and his wife Liu Xia being under house arrest. This was to distract people from the row over the Christine Choi banner, which has put the student activists and their university union representatives in a terrible light.

Though wholly unsubstantiated, a claim – made by Education University student union president Lala Lai Hiu-ching – that some bosses and school heads have blacklisted the university’s graduates from being hired has made it into the news.

School heads condemn suicide taunt as employers ‘vow never to hire’ Education University students

It sounds more like another conspiracy theory. The school has more than 8,500 students. Make all of them jobless when they graduate? If such bosses really existed, you wouldn’t want to work for them anyway.

Having subsidised 75 per cent of their tuition, taxpayers should want all graduates to be gainfully employed. However disagreeable some of them may have behaved, you should wish them well – for society’s sake. Just imagine what they would be capable of doing if they were left jobless, angry and frustrated.

Finding a job, working with others and being accountable to superiors – that’s how young people learn to live in the real world. Maybe then they will learn to be less intransigent and less sure of themselves.