Then They Came For The Books – Hongkongers ‘welcome’ to report library books that may endanger national security says government department that oversees the city’s public library system

Always recruit the Quislings….

Members of the public are “welcome” to report books that may endanger national security to the government department that oversees the city’s public library system, the Leisure and Cultural Services Department (LCSD) has said.

In a press release on Thursday, LCSD said it had launched new channels to collect views on library collections.

If people suspected any items in the library collection were contrary to the law or contained “objectionable content,” LCSD said they could express their opinions via a designated online form, a paper form or by email.

“Members of the public are welcome to express their views on library collections to ensure that the collections do not contain objectionable contents (such as those which exaggerate violence, pornography and vulgarism) , violate the laws of Hong Kong or endanger national security,” the form read.

According to the form, complainants were invited to submit information on the offending item, including title, author, publisher, page number and the reason why it should not be included in the collection. People were not required to provide personal information.

Public libraries will follow up on complaints and possibly remove library materials from the shelves for review. They will not respond to any complaints.

Worsen situation

Lo Kin-hei, chairperson of the Democratic Party, the city’s largest pro-democracy party, said on Thursday he was worried that the move might worsen the situation regarding book removals from public libraries.

“Some people may report the books they dislike without good reason, and staff may simply remove those books after receiving a complaint to avoid being criticised by their superiors or the public for not following up on complaints,” Lo said.

He added that there was no clear definitions of books that “endanger national security” or “exaggerate violence, pornography and vulgarity.” The staff may remove books without filtering the complaints.

“It is completely not beneficial to libraries as a source of knowledge and information,” said Lo.

Support new practice

However, Philip Li, the executive committee of the city’s biggest pro-Beijing party, the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong (DAB), said he supported the new practice.

Li said on Thursday that he welcomed LCSD’s acceptance of DAB’s suggestion about setting up a platform to collect public views on library collections.

He suggested LCSD regularly release the number of complaints received and cases handled to enhance the public understanding on the department’s efforts in handling problematic books.

HKFP has reached out to LCSD for comment.

Read more at HKFP

Hongkongers ‘welcome’ to report library books that may endanger national security