Uproar over offensive posters at Hong Kong campuses just ‘feeding the trolls’

PUBLISHED : Friday, 15 September, 2017, 5:09pm
UPDATED : Friday, 15 September, 2017, 9:35pm

In the last week or so, I’ve been stupefied at the hullabaloo about posters and signs put up on student noticeboards.

Some anonymous persons, possibly students but who knows, put up some posters advocating independence and later insulting a government minister.

If this happened at the university I attended in Australia, it would be ignored by the majority of students and unknown to anyone else. Anyone who was offended by (or supported) the sentiments might put up a response. Or, more likely, shrug and go on with their life.

Here, we have headlines and editorials in every newspaper, including People’s Daily; it’s the first item on the radio and TV news. And there has been a wave of vitriol against the posters; including columns such as Yonden Lhatoo’s, which condemned all of “Hong Kong’s youth” for their inhumanity (“When did Hong Kong’s youth lose their basic humanity?”, September 10).

Also, hundreds of headmasters joined in the condemnation and vowed never to hire graduates from the offending university. All because a person or persons unknown put up offensive posters? This is totally insane; a typhoon in a teacup.

Hasn’t anyone ever heard of the internet axiom: “Don’t feed the trolls?” The more extreme the reaction, the greater the incentive to provoke.

I can believe that the original posters were sincere expressions. But now, as it’s apparent that printing an A4 poster and stapling it to a board is enough to get the media and government (local and Beijing) frothing at the mouth, attention seekers on both sides will vie for the most inflammatory signs. And the shoeshiners fall over themselves to condemn them.

Leung Chun-ying, when he was chief executive, created the Hong Kong independence movement by giving a student newspaper article massive publicity.

It’s so much easier to wrap yourself in the flag (literally, with the promised flag and anthem legislation) than to solve the real problems of Hong Kong governance. Tell Beijing you are fighting separatists. Kick the students and pan-democrats, and ignore the tycoons crushing the life out of the city.

Alan Sargent, Lamma