Misleading: Photos of HKU bulletin board with slogans of dissent were shot in 2016 and 2018, not after student body’s recent apology over controversial motion

The misleading Facebook and Weibo posts featured a collage of two old news photos taken from local news media outlets.

A Facebook user on July 12 posted a photo collage showing the bulletin board, called Democracy Wall, at the University of Hong Kong (HKU) that contained the following text as part of the image, “HKU cockroaches came out and apologized but these are on the Democracy Wall (港大曱甴出嚟道歉,但係民主牆就整啲咁嘅嘢).”

The post has about 230 engagements and over 120 comments at the time of writing. The same misleading photo collage can be found in another Facebook post and also on Sina Weibo. In total, the image has gained about 70 likes.

However, the two images making up the collage are not recent photos. One was taken in 2016 and the other in 2018.

The first image was taken from the Oriental Daily News; its logo is clearly visible in the top left corner. Annie Lab found that this news photo was used in the article published on July 24, 2016.

“on.cc” is the name of the online portal of the Oriental Daily News, which appeared in the Facebook post (left); the same photo was featured in a 2016 article found on the newspaper’s website (right)

The article was about one of the slogans in the photo that contains offensive language toward Arthur Li Kwok-cheung, the chairman of the HKU Council (marked in the green box in the picture below).

The report says the poster was not removed from the Democracy Wall even four days after Billy Fung Jing-en, the former Chairman of the HKU Student Union, was arrested on July 20, 2016, for forcible entry as he tried to barge into a building to disturb a meeting of the governing council of the university.

Annie Lab believes the other slogan in the same picture (marked in the blue box above) refers to a different news event.

The font styles of the two slogans in Chinese appear to be different. Corners of the characters look distinctly dissimilar.

The slogan that reads “We will get the medical society back into our hands. (我們的杏林,我們會奪回來)” seems to be related to the medical students’ protest in 2016.

According to a news report by Hong Kong Free Press published on June 30, 2016, students were protesting against the bill to change the composition of the Medical Council in the city.

Medical doctors and students expressed their concerns that if four non-medical members were to join the Council, entry requirements for overseas-trained doctors would become less strict, the article said.

The second image in the collage shows a slogan that reads, “I stand for the independence of Hong Kong (我支持香港獨立)” and “I stand for Hong Kong National Party (我支持香港民族黨).”

The logo of HK01 (香港01), a local online news outlet, can be seen on the left bottom. Annie Lab found that this picture was used in an article published on Sep. 27, 2018.

Logo of HK01 (香港01) shown in Facebook post (left). ; The same photo published by HK01 (right)

Local media reported that these slogans supporting the Hong Kong National Party, which had advocated for the independence of Hong Kong, were posted on the Democracy Wall after the Security Bureau banned the political party on Sept. 24, 2018.

A “Democracy Wall” is a designated bulletin board space at local universities for students to express their opinions, especially about political issues.

HKU, City University of Hong Kong and other tertiary institutions in the city have their own democracy walls.

Bills and posters on the Wall at HKU, however, have all been taken down on July 11 after the school decided to take back its control over the facility.

The misleading Facebook post emerged following the recent withdrawal of the motion and apologies by the HKU Students’ Union about its resolution to mourn the death of a man who stabbed a police officer in Causeway Bay on July 1, which sparked controversy.

Correction on July 19, 2021: The earlier version of this story mistakenly dated bills and posters on Democracy Wall being taken down on July 13, instead of July 11.