Government adviser Fanny Law today endorsed an explosive claim circulating on pro-Bejing social media, saying on a radio program that “young girls” were being “misled” into providing “free sex” to anti-government “warriors.”
You’ll have to forgive all those scare quotes. As you can see, it’s a doozy.
Law — who sits on the Executive Council — was appearing on RTHK’s “Backchat” program with pro-dem politician Avery Ng when she referred to an email from a listener espousing the claim that young women were effectively being used as “comfort women” for frontline protesters.
Apparently paying little mind to the explosiveness of the unsubstantiated accusation, not to mention the horrific history of “comfort women,” Law backed the claim and maintained it was “confirmed” to the audible confusion of her co-panelist.
“I think we have confirmed that this is a true case. I’m so sad for these young girls, who have been misled into offering free sex,” Law said, as another guest, presumably Ng, utters a justifiably befuddled “wait, whaa?”
Law then goes on at length about the danger of anger in society before ceding the floor back to Ng — a man who once got jail time for throwing a tuna sandwich at a former chief executive, yet somehow still managed to come off as the voice of reason in the studio.
“I think I’ve got to correct Fanny Law on many points,” Ng begins. “First of all, on the issue of free sex. I mean, first of all, sex should be free — that’s out of love.”
“For the warriors,” Law interjects.
8:30-9:30 Latest on HK Protestshttps://www.rthk.hk/radio/radio3/programme/backchat/episode/593398/contentindex/1Fanny Law (L), Executive Councillor吳文遠 Avery Ng (R), Chairman, League of Social Democrats
“For the kids — they could still have their summer holidays, they can still find love. They don’t need to incite violence,” Ng continues, arguing, in effect, that young people don’t need to brave rubber bullets and tear gas to have flings.
“This phenomenon is not exclusive to Hong Kong. ISIS brides, young girls, very emotional,” host Hugh Chiverton chimes in, perhaps unwittingly equating Hong Kong’s stone-throwing protesters to the hardline radicals famous for beheading hostages and conquering much of Iraq and Syria.
“People can still [meet partners] on the beach, during summer holiday, not risking their lives getting fired at by the police!” Ng counters.
As the topic steers towards police’s use of force, Law at one point chides Ng, saying the panelists weren’t “here to apportion blame,” prompting Ng to exclaim, “You were blaming the kids for going to marches for sex!”
Law’s contention goes largely unexplored as the conversation shifts to other topics until a listener, who gives his name as Matthew, calls into the program to take the ExCo member to task. As Law begins to speak of the need to “untie the knot” of conflict for Hong Kong to move beyond its ongoing unrest, an incredulous Matthew bursts in to question how she could “disrespect [protesters] in that manner.”
“Is that how you untie the knot?” he asks. “You’re saying the reason they’re protesting is because [women are giving] sex to the male protesters!”
“There is evidence!” Law fires back. “That is the daughter of a friend’s friend. That’s secondhand knowledge, but it’s direct — it’s direct and it’s real. The girl actually wrote a piece.”
The “piece” Law refers to would appear to be a purported anonymous account circulating on pro-Beijing social media. In the brief account — which couldn’t be better suited to generating parental hysteria if it were fabricated whole cloth — a politically naive girl describes dabbling in protests only to find herself caught in a spiral of alcohol and marijuana and having unprotected sex with seven protesters after becoming a so-called “revolutionary angel.”
The account concludes with the girl finding out she is pregnant and getting an abortion, and ends with the sign-off “Love, a 14-year-old Hong Kong girl.”
The publisher of the account, a Facebook page called “Insiders News,” appears to serve as a clearinghouse for protesters’ alleged misdeeds, and describes itself as tackling stories the mainstream media doesn’t dare report.
While dismissing allegations of sexual violence out of hand is just as problematic as blithely disseminating false ones, the account’s anonymous nature and the stance of its source — not to mention the existence of recently uncovered disinformation campaigns aimed at smearing Hong Kong’s pro-democracy movement — raise red flags that Law appeared all too willing to ignore.
(Insiders News did not immediately respond to questions from Coconuts HK seeking information on the source of the account, whether a police report was filed in relation to the alleged crimes described, or what steps, if any, the outlet took to verify its truthfulness. As of press time, the original post was no longer visible after having apparently been reported to Facebook as inappropriate.)
As the exchange grows testy, with Matthew slamming Law for her “outrageous stance,” the host, Chiverton, chimes in again, asking Law if she has evidence for the accusations, to which she responds in the affirmative.
At that point, Ng wades back in, urging Law to report the case if she does have information — “I mean, Fanny, it’s underage comfort girls; if you have any evidence, come forward” — at which point Law begins to distance herself from having endorsed the rumor in the first place.
“It was Hugh who read the email,” she protests, referring to the listener’s comment that first sparked the discussion, “not me who raised it.”
“Where are those emails coming from, Fanny?” asks Matthew, still on the line. “You know as well as I do how the United Front machine works.”
Finally, Law seeks to drop the subject altogether, urging everyone else not to “dwell on” the matter.
“If you want to believe, believe; if you don’t want to believe, don’t believe,” she says. “That’s not the key point.”
But Hong Kong netizens weren’t ready to simply drop the issue, with many lambasting Law for “insulting” female protesters, and some faulting the show’s presenters for failing to call her out on the loaded charge.
“Today’s interview was disappointing to hear: the topic of insulting young girls was brought into discussion as a fact and nobody (at least the presenters of the programme) fact-checked it or made clear it was an opinion thrown to the air,” one commenter on Backchat’s Facebook page said. “Now, Fanny Law’s controversial ‘opinion’ and open insult to HK young ones brings more rage and frustration to the public, not helping at all the current situation.”
So she’s saying that the school kids who won’t hold hands are having sex? pic.twitter.com/MeOdLDdUN1
— Stephen Halley (@likeimonfire) September 9, 2019
As of this evening “Fanny Law” was trending on Twitter, with the comments overwhelmingly critical.
“Fanny Law’s spurious claims are disgusting on so many levels and also reveals she has a very screwed up attitude to sex where she sees it as something women ‘offer’ to men,” one user said.
Speaking to RTHK after the show, Ng said that Law had told him that the claims had been circulating in pro-Beijing Facebook groups, and that she had fact-checked them and found them to be true — adding that she also heard them from a “cruise buddy.”
Law, for her part, declined to respond to RTHK’s follow-up questions on the matter, saying she had already taken a lot of flak for the remarks and would not be clarifying them.
The pro-Beijing tabloid Global Times, however, quoted her as doubling down on the remarks, saying she had heard of the claims through a “trusted friend” and adding that the purported sex had been consensual.
Nonetheless, she told the outlet, young girls should steer clear of drugs and alcohol around men they had met at protests.
“People are free to decide what to believe. Preventive advice cannot be wrong,” she added.