Hong Kong gov’t accidentally promotes terrorism with poorly designed leaflet

The awkwardly designed leaflet, produced by the Inter-departmental Counter Terrorism Unit (ICTU), is not quite spreading its intended message. Photo: Facebook
The awkwardly designed leaflet, produced by the Inter-departmental Counter Terrorism Unit (ICTU), is not quite spreading its intended message. Photo: Facebook

A Hong Kong law enforcement leaflet meant to encourage people to report terrorist activities is inadvertently promoting terrorism instead, thanks to the poor design and questionable wording.

The reverse side of the leaflet is printed with a set of advice written in an acrostic style, with SPOT standing for “Support terrorist activities,” “Prepare for attacks,” “Online extremist materials” and “Terrorist ideologies.”

Wording like 'support terrorist activities' and 'purchase of unusual amount of chemicals' inadvertently appears to encourage extremism. Photo: Facebook
Wording like “support terrorist activities” and “purchase of unusual amount of chemicals” inadvertently appears to encourage extremism. Photo: Facebook

Produced by the Inter-departmental Counter Terrorism Unit (ICTU) under the Security Bureau, the leaflet—part of the unit’s Spot and Report campaign—was shared to a Facebook group Wednesday, inviting mockery of the counterproductive messaging.

“Is this pro or anti-terrorist?” One person wrote.

The bullet point text, including “purchase of unusual amount of chemicals” and “extensive browsing of extremist websites,” reads more like instructions on how to engage in terrorism than, well, anything else.

The front side of the leaflet. Photo: Facebook
The front side of the leaflet. Photo: Facebook

The Chinese text, a decent translation of the English wording, is no better. (It could be interpreted as even more provocative as the “SPOT” acronym does not appear in Chinese.)

The ICTU comprises departments including the Hong Kong Police Force, Immigration Department and Customs and Excise Department.

Months ago, Hongkongers laughed at a similar gaffe when the police force pushed their anti-substance campaign with the obsolete internet acronym, “YOLO.”

Meaning “you only live once,” the slang celebrates taking risks and embracing the unknown, making it a curious choice for the intentions of the campaign.

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