Hong Kong’s Home Affairs Department has banned the Yau Tsim Mong District Council from adding protest-related emoticon “LIHKG pig” to the area’s festive lights design, saying the pattern was “controversial” and may “cause discomfort.”

The subcommittee responsible for coordinating festival celebrations originally passed a proposal by District Councillor Ben Lam to include the mascot – popularised during last year’s anti-extradition bill movement – from the discussion forum LIHKG. The theme of Yau Tsim Mong district’s light decorations is “regional characteristics.”

LIHKG pig. Photo: Studio Incendo.

But the proposal was shot down at a meeting last Thursday, as the subcommittee applied for HK$1.09 million for the project. According to the discussion papers, the Home Affairs Department said the “LIHKG pig” design did not match the “festive atmosphere.”

“Adding controversial pattern not only does not fit the festive atmosphere, it may also cause discomfort, affecting community cohesion,” the document read.

The department also cited the Manual on the Use of District Council Funds and the council’s guidelines on fund approval, saying the budget should not “overpraise” an individual or business organisations. Using the “LIHKG pig” design may also lead to copyright issues, the government agency said.

Yau Tsim Mong District Council. File photo: Inmediahk.net, via CC 2.0.

“Please consider amending this funding proposal and cancel the pattern concerned, to make it in accordance with relevant regulations under the Funds for Community Involvement Projects,” it wrote.

‘Political censorship’

Speaking to local media, District Council member Lam said he disagreed with the department’s remarks on the “LIHKG pig” and criticised the demand for a design change as “political censorship.”

“It is impossible for the LIHKG pig to cause discomfort, how can a pig stir up controversies?” Lam told Stand News.

Ben Lam. Photo: Ben Lam, via Facebook.

He told Apple Daily that most district councillors hoped there could be decorative lights in the area, therefore the subcommittee would accept the department’s request and submit a new design for review in an upcoming meeting on Tuesday.

On Facebook, Lam said he would write to the Home Affairs Department and demand them to pass the “LIHKG pig” design to the Obscene Articles Tribunal to examine whether the mascot was “disturbing.”

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.