Police's new year Occupy joke backfires

By staff reporter, with additional reporting by John Kang

Police caused anger over the holidays after a new year photo posted on Facebook appeared to mock the Occupy protests

By staff reporter, with additional reporting by John Kang |

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The police have been criticised for the way they chose to wish people a happy year of the goat on Facebook.

A photograph of a group of police officers holding firearms and flags - an apparent joke referencing Occupy - went viral over Lunar New Year.

The photograph was posted on the Facebook page , meaning "Support Hong Kong Police". The post received almost 1,000 likes and close to 300 comments.

The photo, which appears to have been taken at a police facility, shows officers from the elite Police Tactical Unit lined up and smiling. Five of the officers are holding weapons.

Four fellow officers hold up red flags like those used to warn Occupy protesters. The flags spell out in Chinese characters: "Full of happiness in the Year of the Goat."

Asked if an investigation had been launched and if the officers could face disciplinary action, a spokesman for the police would only say that the police would look into the matter.

The photograph sparked debate on Facebook. One person wrote that he was "disgusted". Creative Secondary School student Christy Wong Ka-hei thought the photo was disrespectful because of what the flags represent.

"The flags remind me of the Occupy movement, so it doesn't look like the police took the protests seriously," said the 13-year-old. "There are a million other ways to wish a happy Lunar New Year, so they shouldn't have used [the flags]."

Sebastian Wong Chak-sum, a 16-year-old student at Po Leung Kuk Vicwood KT Chong Sixth Form College, agrees that it was wrong of the police to post the photo.

"They shouldn't have posted it on social media because there will be people who find it offensive," he said. "It's a controversial topic, and they were even wearing their police uniform."

But 16-year-old South Tuen Mun Government Secondary School student Kristie Wong Long-ka can't understand why such a fuss is being made.

"The officers are just wishing us a happy Lunar New Year," said Kristie. "Maybe they used the flags because they have nothing else to use."