Hong Kong police have expressed “strong concerns” over a satirical cartoon published in Ming Pao that contained what they called “misleading content,” according to local media reports.
The illustration in question, which was published in Tuesday’s edition of the newspaper, depicted officers outside a school in full riot gear. “What have the students done today, headteacher Chan?” the police ask a bespectacled woman, who lists their offences – swearing, losing an eraser, having laser pointers in their bags and talking back to and allegedly intimidating teachers.
In a letter to Lau Chung Yeung, the paper’s executive chief editor, Assistant Commissioner of Police (Public Relations) Joe Chan wrote that he feared the cartoon’s content could lead to misunderstanding among readers that the police would actually deploy staff to handle such matters, local media reported.
In addition, Chan said readers might draw parallels between the cartoon and reports on an earlier page about an incident at Tsuen Wan’s St. Francis Xavier’s School, in which 14 students were suspended from class for three days after being accused of missing a morning flag-raising ceremony.
That article mentioned that police had been called to the school after a sign at its front gate was damaged rather than over anything to do with the suspension, the assistant commissioner wrote. However, he added it was possible that the illustration might mislead readers into thinking the school had reported the students accused of “disrespecting” the flag-raising ceremony to the police.
The cartoon was likely to place pressure or stress on school’s headmaster, teachers and students, Chan said.
“The false descriptions in [the illustration] might make the public misunderstand police work. They not only damage the Force’s image, but also harm the cooperation between the police and the public, as well as our effectiveness on cracking down crimes,” Chan said.
The police urged Ming Pao to “together bear professional responsibility” with them and “base everything on facts” while handling school-related news with a “pragmatic attitude.”
The cartoon in question was authored by Wong Kee-kwan, who works under the pen name Zunzi. Wong has been a political cartoonist for 40 years and contributed to pro-Beijing publications New Evening Post and Takungpao in his early career before his comics became a daily staple in Ming Pao, as well as in the defunct pro-democracy tabloid Apple Daily for decades.
Zunzi’s latest comic strip on Wednesday was based on comments made by the chief executive after the bill about implementing Hong Kong’s own national security law was removed from the legislature’s 2022 schedule.
A number of political cartoonists have left Hong Kong in recent months, with many citing concerns about artistic freedom in the city. Hong Kong Worker, vawongsir and Ah To, whose work was also published in Ming Pao, all announced their departures earlier this year.
HKFP has reached to the police and Ming Pao for comment.
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