Executive Councilor Ronny Tong has urged the Hong Kong government to step up efforts to combat misinformation and lies, which he said were used to deliberately undermine the city’s constitutional arrangement of “one country, two systems.”
The government should set up a “public relation office or a central policy unit where lies and misinformation are quickly dealt with and corrected and not allowed to ferment and proliferate,” Tong said on a Sunday radio program.
Tong called on the government to build channels to consult and communicate with the public, and to forge good relationships with private sector allies such as think tanks, opinion leaders and media outlets. The government should conduct more research and policy studies in the area as well, he added.
Tong said there were people who were using deliberate falsehoods to destroy Hong Kong’s constitutional order.
“You may think I am being paranoid, but there is no other way to explain the amount of lies and misinformation our community is being fed every day,” he said.
“We need honest politicians and impartial media committed to making the ‘one country, two systems’ a success; and we are lacking in both.”
Tong accused the media of distorting the nature of the extradition bill proposed by the Hong Kong government in 2019, which he said “helped fan the anger and hate in the community until it reached a crescendo that brought us to the brink of total disintegration.”
He claimed that a newspaper had invented the slogan “send back to China” to twist public perception of the bill and to label it an “evil scheme.” Those efforts were then backed by foreign media and governments, he said.
The 2019 extradition bill, originally touted as a solution to a “legal loophole,” would have allowed Hong Kong to accept extradition requests from countries where there was no prior agreement by using a case-based approach. The proposed system would have applied to jurisdictions such as mainland China, Taiwan and Macao.
The bill sparked citywide protests that grew into a pro-democracy movement with demands for universal suffrage, accountability for police actions, amnesty for arrested protesters and the government retracting its characterization of the protests as “riots.”
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