Misleading: ‘Lennon Walls’ were not spared because the head of the city department supports protest movement
A recurring narrative on social media claims Hong Kong’s Food and Environmental Hygiene Department (FEHD) has been reluctant to clean up the Lennon Walls, one of the major symbols of the ongoing protests in the city, because the department head personally supports the movement.
This Facebook group post, for example, uses strong language, saying the director of FEHD, Vivian Lau, is confirmed to be rooting for the “cockroaches,” a derogatory term first used by some frontline police officers to label protesters.
It claims the department has purposefully kept political messages that “defame” the government through the makeshift “walls” of sticky notes, artwork, and other material in various districts in the city.
Similar accusations have spread on social media since last year. Some pro-Beijing legislative council members and local media have also criticized the FEHD for not taking appropriate actions to clean up the Lennon Walls.
However, such claims are misleading. An official record shows the FEHD has been clearing the walls since June 2019. According to the document, cleaning operations have taken place 950 times at 295 different locations.
The FEHD has the power to remove unauthorized commercial publicity materials on any private and government land, according to the Public Health and Municipal Services Ordinance.
But since Lennon Wall bills and posters are not commercial in nature, the department told local media they need confirmation from the Lands Department to clear them out.
In August last year, the FEHD issued a statement to refute the allegations of political bias but did not stop the similar claims circulating in the city.
Annie Lab could not independently confirm or deny Lau’s personal political stance.