A pro-Beijing group in Hong Kong has demanded an apology from the Civic Party after its district councillor was accused of posting “insulting” and “discriminatory” notices.

Around 40 people from the Love Hong Kong Alliance protested outside the Legislative Council on Wednesday. They criticised the pro-democracy party for “insulting Hong Kong citizens” and urged leader Alvin Yeung to condemn the behaviour of accused district councillor Andy Lao.

Love Hong Kong Alliance Civic Party district councillor notices
Love Hong Kong Alliance protest outside the Legislative Council on March 11. Photo: Kelly Ho/HKFP.

The criticism came after Lao and another Sham Shui Po district councillor Leos Lee posted notices outside of their office saying they would not serve “blue ribbons,” a term used to refer to supporters of the Hong Kong government and police, as well as “dogs,” a derogatory term for cops.

The Alliance said Lao and Lee had insulted residents who hold different political beliefs, and their reactions to criticism were unprofessional.

“How can these ill-mannered district councillors genuinely serve citizens?” asked Elaine Cheung, spokesperson of the Alliance. “If the Civic Party does not want their reputation to be ruined, Alvin Yeung needs to condemn its party member.”

Love Hong Kong Alliance Civic Party district councillor notices
Protesters from the Love Hong Kong Alliance tear up their petition letters. Photo: Kelly Ho/HKFP.

The Alliance had prepared petition letters to give to Yeung, but neither he nor any party representatives showed up to receive them. Protesters eventually tore up the letters in anger at the lack of response.

The notice has been slammed by government supporters including political advocacy group the Silent Majority, who demanded Lao and Lee be ousted from their district councillor posts, according to a Facebook post by the group last Thursday. Several demonstrations were staged outside the councillors’ office over the weekend, some of which escalated into clashes between protesters and members from the councillors’ office.

Lao and Lee told local media that the notices were posted in late January, but they only began to receive complaints, protests and threatening calls after Beijing-friendly media outlet Speak Out HK reported on them last Friday.

On Monday, the Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC) said in a statement that it had received close to 1,000 complaints and enquires related to the notices.

The EOC said Lao and Lee’s acts were “discriminatory” and “inappropriate” but there was no legal basis for the statutory body to take follow-up actions, as the incident did not fall under the existing scope of the ordinances.

Andy Lao Ka-hang Leos Lee Man-ho Sham Shui Po district councillors notices
Leos Lee Man-ho (left) and Andy Lao Ka-hang (right) outside their office in Sham Shui Po with the controversial notices. Photo: inmediahk.net.

“The EOC can only handle discrimination based on gender, pregnancy, marital status, disability, family status and race according to the existing anti-discrimination ordinances,” the commission said.

But the EOC Chairperson Ricky Chu said the body holds high expectations of conduct towards public servants, including district councillors.

“As public servants, district councillors should serve all residents in their respective district, and should not refuse to serve any resident in the district,” Chu said in another statement last Friday.

Vincent Cheng, lawmaker of Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong (DAB), also urged Lao and Lee to apologise.

Vincent Cheng DAB district councillor notice March 11
Vincent Cheng at a press conference on March 11. Photo: inmediahk.net.

At a press conference on Wednesday, Cheng questioned whether Lao and Lee were using public funds fairly by refusing to serve certain residents. He said such turndown would constitute misconduct in a public office, adding he would seek legal advice and report to the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) later.

Cheng stood against Andy Lao and Wong Hiu-shing in the Nam Cheong North constituency in the District Council Elections last November. Lao defeated Cheng by more than 400 votes.

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Kelly Ho

Kelly Ho has an interest in local politics, education and sports. She formerly worked at South China Morning Post Young Post, where she specialised in reporting on issues related to Hong Kong youth. She has a bachelor's degree in Journalism from the University of Hong Kong, with a second major in Politics and Public Administration.