Ugly politics disguised in art form

Editorial | 23 Mar 2016

After Hongkong Post, another government department isn't making sense.

If the post office's move last year to cover the royal insignia remaining on a small number of colonial-era mailboxes was ignorant, the Leisure and Cultural Services Department's recent demand to delete "national" from the name of a Taiwan university in a performance company's literature was equally naive.

Local company The Nonsensemakers staged the last show of its production Part Three of the Notebook: Third Lie days ago.

Before the curtain was lowered, it announced a staff member whose credit was missing in the brochure is a graduate of the Taipei National University of the Arts, and it was missing because LCSD had asked for the word "national" to be deleted.

In protest, a photo of her holding the graduation certificate was used instead. Why the demand?

It's an open secret here. But it's still disappointing to see how home secretary Lau Kong-wah has failed to address the issue. Instead of addressing what's already in everybody's mind, Lau repeated the official line that LCSD would enhance communication with the organization.

That's typical bureaucracy. If Lau lacked the courage to declare "national" too sensitive for the brochure under the "one-China" principle, his colleague in the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong, Tam Yiu-chung, was upright about his belief.

Expressing agreement, Tam said text like this ought to be handled carefully under the "one-country" criterion.

What does it mean? Simply put, one has to be politically correct. What Tam stopped short of openly saying was probably that as ideological control is tightened up north, one had better err on the side of caution when it comes to political correctness.

The problem is - it's only a school name, which has little to do with the "one country" concept.

Where the staff member graduated from was the Taipei National University of the Arts. If its name is altered into "Taipei University of the Arts," it would no longer be the same school.

Worse still, it's non-existent.

The LCSD's demand is much ado about nothing - just a stupid decision.

It's not the first time the LCSD has exercised censorship. Last summer, a local performer studying at the same university came under similar pressure, and the school's name was shortened to get rid of "national."

The name is common in Taiwan. Among the numerous universities there, a total of 49 are "national." Of the 7,300-plus Hong Kong students in Taiwan, more than 2,300 are studying at "national" universities.

Should these students all give up the name of their schools after returning to Hong Kong? Does it mean they cannot apply for government jobs without altering the name of their schools?

That would defy common sense.

Executive Council member Lam Woon-kwong made a good point when he said that while it may be sensitive under the "one-China" concept, it should be handled under the "one country, two systems" arrangement. In the end, Hong Kong should continue to be a free and open society.

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