'It's evil' linking mock-gun kids, protest violence

Top News | Staff reporter 21 Apr 2021

It was "evil" for the press to publish a photo of children playing with sample guns on National Security Education Day and relate that to alleged police brutality two years ago, top cop Chris Tang Ping-keung says.

Tang said it needs looking into whether the motive behind the photo was to incite hatred or divide society, with the eventual result of harming national security.

This follows his previous criticism of Apple Daily, without naming the paper directly, for its front-page coverage of National Security Education Day on Thursday.

The newspaper printed a picture of children playing with toy guns on a mock MTR carriage at police college next to a photo taken inside Prince Edward MTR station on August 31, 2019, when officers pepper sprayed and hit protesters inside a train carriage.

Tang told Straight Talk host Michael Chugani in the last episode he hosted that rather than calling the report "fake news," he was more concerned about the motive.

"The kids are playing with toy guns and they're happy and they're innocent. The point is, try to put that picture and relate it to violence during the anti-fugitive bill movement," Tang said.

"The motive is very suspicious. Is it, you know, trying to incite hatred? Is it trying to split society? Is it, you know, trying to create a contradiction between different sectors of society? I think this is the evil part."

Tang said police intended to educate students about national security, including units involved in enforcing or in defending Hong Kong's security.

That explains why there were toy guns for children to look at and it was normal and natural for them to run around with them, Tang said.

"The point is, a picture was taken and then it's highlighted and related to violence during the anti-fugitive bill movement incidents. The [kids'] school was subsequently doxxed, [it will come under] a lot of harassment," Tang said.

"I think it does hurt the young minds of the children and I think this is the evil part."

Although he respects press freedom, Tang said police have to look into whether this had anything to do with inciting hatred against the force or the government.

"If the motive behind some of the news is to incite hatred as a result or subsequently have an effect on things like subversion, secession, that may relate to national security."

Asked if a new law would deal with fake news, Tang said: "It's good to have a separate law to make a clear definition of fake news.

"For every law that can assist national security and assist in making Hong Kong more safe, I think it's good."

Tang also said the national security department, which will be the first to vet election candidates after the electoral changes were passed by Beijing on March 30, will check if any of the aspirants pose national security threats.

"It's about threat assessment. It doesn't mean that if you have criticized the government, you will be in trouble," Tang said.

"People can have different views. Having different views doesn't mean that you will pose a threat to national security."

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