Government departments and major corporations in Hong Kong have used a celebrity’s infidelity to warn against everything from corruption to not repairing run-down buildings, but not everyone has found it funny.
On Tuesday, a 16-minute video of Andy Hui Chi-on, husband of superstar Sammi Cheng Sau-man, getting intimate with TVB actress Jacqueline Wong in the back of a car went viral.
A tearful Hui later apologised at a press conference, which hundreds of thousands of people watched online. Wong has so far remained silent.
But, before Hui’s apology came the memes, with some of the city’s biggest institutions having fun at the pair’s expense.
Social media accounts for the Independent Commission Against Corruption, the Buildings Department, and Hong Kong’s largest bus company, KMB, all took the opportunity to capitalise on the incident.
The ICAC’s Facebook page, All for Integrity, featured a post with a picture of a character with the message: “Don't think you can cheat by keeping things secret. Digital footprints and cameras are everywhere.”
The post continued: “It's not hard to find evidence for corruption. It's not easy to get away with it.” Just for good measure it added a hashtag that referenced overcoming temptation.
Some 1,700 people liked the post, with 200 people commenting, although the most popular comment took the anti-corruption group to task for playing off someone else’s misery.
“Please stop the piggybacking!” one Facebook user named Lau Tie-tie commented. “There are a lot of ways for promotion. You really want to build your happiness on others' misery?
“It's like bullying. Is that the image of the ICAC?”
In response, the ICAC said it hoped to promote correct ideas and information through daily life and news, but would think about how to handle public relations in future.
A post on the Buildings Department’s Facebook page was also criticised by some. It showed an old building in need of repair, saying: “I’m rotten”, a reference to Hui’s tearful apology. It was accompanied with a hashtag quoting Hui, who said at the press conference: “I feel I am very disgusting.”
Not everyone who liked the post find it appealing, with some telling the department to “do your job first”.
Meanwhile, environmental minister Wong Kam-sing used his Facebook page to promote the recycling of glass bottles, and included a subtle reference to the scandal.
“Keep your mind on glass bottle recycling … and there’s a video to broadcast at 7pm,” the post read, making reference to the names of Hui and Wong, and Hui’s 7pm press conference.
KMB’s post urged passengers not to “cheat” in a vehicle, by eating and drinking quietly. Eating and drinking is not allowed on public transport in the city. The post was accompanied by a drawing of two mice, one with a cap and the other wearing a black mask, imitating how Hui and Wong look in the video.
If the privacy issue is not mentioned, the incident itself, which is inappropriate, will be portrayed as appropriate. The government shouldn’t do this
Joseph Wong, former secretary for the civil service
Ivan Choy Chi-keung, a political commentator and Chinese University senior lecturer, said while the government should be more cautious than commercial companies, he had so far not seen “official posts on the issue that have gone too far”.
Former secretary for the civil service Joseph Wong Wing-ping said he thought capitalising on the issue was in bad taste. He added even if government departments and companies wanted to use the incident for self-promotion, they should also mention the privacy concerns involved.
“If the privacy issue is not mentioned, the incident itself, which is inappropriate, will be portrayed as appropriate. The government shouldn’t do this,” he said.
On Tuesday, a former privacy commissioner and barristers said the driver, who took the video using an on-board camera, and Apple Daily, which broadcast it, might have broken privacy laws.
More from South China Morning Post:
- Racy video of ‘queen of Canto-pop’ Sammi Cheng’s husband Andy Hui in back of vehicle with another woman sparks privacy concerns over on-board cameras
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