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Tuesday, Dec 01, 2020

Singapore’s Ho Ching sparks social media stir with US vs Hong Kong protests post

The wife of Lee Hsien Loong shared a cartoon from Singapore media contrasting Donald Trump’s reaction to protests in the US and Hong Kong. China’s Global Times lauded the post, but it has attracted criticism in Hong Kong, Taiwan and from some social media users in Singapore

A cartoon shared on Facebook by the wife of Singapore’s prime minister, which contrasts President Donald Trump’s reaction to the ongoing protests against racism and police violence in the US with his comments on anti-government demonstrations in Hong Kong, has become a talking point in mainland China, Hong Kong and Taiwan.

Ho Ching, the wife of Lee Hsien Loong and who heads state investment firm Temasek, on Monday reposted a cartoon by Singaporean political cartoonist Heng Kim Song, which was first published in the city state’s Chinese language daily broadsheet Lianhe Zaobao.

It depicts how Trump had called for “democracy” as Hong Kong protesters smashed a shop window, but called protesters who were doing the same in Minnesota “thugs”.

The post has been liked more than 3,700 times and was highlighted by Global Times – a state-owned tabloid affiliated with People’s Daily, the official newspaper of China’s ruling Communist Party – which ran a story about it on Tuesday highlighting US officials’ starkly different reactions to the two sets of protests.

Users of Chinese microblogging site Weibo flocked to posts on the topic, with some saying Ho “deserves praise” for sharing the cartoon.

The Global Times story, which was shared by Sina News of Chinese technology giant Sina Corp, pointed out that Ho risked incurring the wrath of “many chaotic people in Hong Kong”, harking back to how she had rubbed some the wrong way in September by sharing a post in support of the city’s police.

Hong Kong news portal Winandmac Media, meanwhile, said on Twitter that it thought Ho did not “understand the nature” of the city’s anti-government protests, adding that it was “disgraceful to compare Hong Kong with the US”.

In Taiwan, English-language news website Taiwan News reported that Ho had “drawn the ire” of Taiwanese people again, just weeks after an earlier quibble with social media users that had been sparked by her commenting “Errr” – an interjection used in text messaging to denote sarcasm – in response to the self-ruled island’s donation of surgical masks to Singapore, which many said they felt was ungrateful. Ho later amended her post to say she was “forever grateful” to “all our friends and friends of friends in Taiwan”.

Others have criticised Ho for supporting the Communist Party’s spin on the two unrelated protests. Among the 1,100 comments her post garnered over two days was one by Facebook user Ngah Hoon Ng, who said that it showed a “strong signal” that Singapore was against the “democracy value” proposed by the US.

Another, who goes by the name He Kuek, said: “You sure you are truly representing the benefit of your country Singapore instead of [the Chinese Communist Party]?”

Since wide-scale, sometimes violent, protests erupted across the US – triggered by the death last week of George Floyd, an unarmed black man who died after a white police officer knelt on his neck – Trump has threatened to call in the military to enforce order, while police have fired tear gas and rubber bullets at protesters.

And as the US and China continue to clash on issues ranging from trade to technology, Chinese diplomats have harangued Washington for criticising Beijing’s plans to foist a new security law on Hong Kong while at the same time threatening to impose martial law in US cities.

On Monday, Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said China “stands with the African side to firmly oppose all forms of racial discrimination”, while Hua Chunying, the ministry’s information chief, took to social media to highlight the US’ “hypocrisy”.

Hong Kong’s Chief Executive Carrie Lam followed suit on Tuesday, slamming the US for its “double standard”. “There are riots in the United States and we see how local governments reacted. And then in Hong Kong, when we had similar riots, we saw what position they adopted,” she said.

Ho, who was once described as publicity shy, has become one of the most watched personalities on social media in Singapore. She actively posts on her Facebook page almost every day – mostly links to articles – and occasionally comments on current events.


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