Former chief executive Leung Chun-ying has slammed a pro-democracy district councillor over a “fitness training” poster outside his Tuen Mun office, which appeared to depict a protester.
“Special training in Tuen Mun: integrate revolution into everyday life. Reclaim Hong Kong by taking action,” it read, accompanied by an image of a black-clad person wearing a helmet.
Since the start of citywide protests last June, users of the popular messaging app Telegram responded to violent incidents – such as the Yuen Long mob attack – by organising fitness and self-defence classes. The training sessions are usually small, informal, irregular, coached by volunteers and vary from district to district.
Last Friday, Tuen Mun District Councillor Sam Cheung said on Facebook that Tuen Mun District Officer Aubrey Fung had received complaints, accusing the poster of “promoting violence, inciting hatred, preaching revolution and promoting Hong Kong independence, constituting misconduct in public office.”
Cheung told HKFP he did not post the sign himself but invited residents to use the outside of his office as a pro-democracy messaging board, known as a “Lennon Wall.”
The district councillor responded to Fung’s email saying the complaints were exaggerated and misrepresented as a code of conduct issue: “To those who say encouraging physical exercise is promoting violence, don’t be silly.”
“Take a look at what happened in Hong Kong, ‘blue-ribbons’ [pro-government supporters] who slashed civilians in the street have been praised as displaying ‘noble virtue.’ A lawmaker [Ray Chan] was assaulted by Kwok Wai-keung in front of everyone.”
His comments referenced a controversial sentence ruling where a magistrate judge praised an assailant for handing himself in to law enforcement, as well as Federation of Trade Unions lawmaker Kwok who pulled a democrat by his collar at the legislature.
“People around the world, take pride in your physical strength. Only dictatorships fear the strength and power of its people.”
On Monday, former chief executive Leung Chun-ying in a Facebook status criticising Cheung for his response: “Another cowardly district councillor, Tuen Mun’s Sam Cheung, who defended a poster promoting revolution special training outside his office.”
On the same day, the Home Affairs Department, which oversees the 18 district councils across Hong Kong, emailed Tuen Mun District Council chair Chan Shu-ying to ask her to follow up on the complaints against Cheung.
In the email, the department accused Cheung of violating sections one to three of the General Standards under the Code of Conduct for Members of a District Council – namely, that councillors should not “bring the Council into disrepute,” or “compromise or impair his or her integrity, impartiality, objectivity.”
Chan responded on Wednesday saying she would not investigate unless the department provided further details about the complaints.
“The word ‘revolution’ has a diverse usage,” she wrote. “[The complaints] are making a mountain out of a molehill and accusing [Cheung] of guilt over what he said.”