Wearing a mask could get you into trouble these days.
Sultry cantopop singer Joey Yung, 39, learned this recently when she posted on Instagram a picture of hers wearing a white surgical mask while seated aboard an aircraft.
In the accompanying text, she tells her fans she’s going somewhere, although she hates leaving the city. Then she quotes part of the lyrics of her song that goes: “I only know I need to fly…” And that’s it.
Unfortunately, nothing is simple and innocent in today’s highly charged environment. Her IG story went viral and mainland netizens went ballistic.
They immediately concluded that Yung was making a political statement, that she’s aligning herself with the Hong Kong protest movement, or at least sympathizing with the anti-China activists, that she was protesting against the anti-mask law promulgated under the government’s colonial-era emergency powers to deal with the nearly six months of protests roiling the city.
And so the virulent messages poured, calling her names.
Poor Joey, she probably was just having a cough or being health-conscious. Or maybe it’s a fashion statement. Or was she trying to hide an inflammation on the right side of the face? Whatever. That she did not explain why she’s wearing a mask in the picture only stoked speculation and suspicions.
Yung is not a known supporter of the pro-democracy movement. And her boss, entertainment tycoon Albert Yeung Sau-shing, is a very pro-China businessman.
Amid all the howls of protest, Yung removed the controversial IG picture. But to her surprise, her name was also dropped from the list of artists invited to perform at the Singles Day extravaganza of Hunan Television on Sunday.
She later learned that the station has been bombarded with angry messages questioning why the show’s producers had invited a China hater and given her the privilege of earning precious renminbi.
However, the TV promo for the 11.11 show still had Yung among the invited guests, and as of press time, there’s no word on whether she has been dropped from the roster of performers.
In an apparent bid to end the brouhaha, Yung again took to Instagram to apologize for her selfie post and the firestorm it has generated. She said she very much regretted her carelessness and felt sorry for her family, loved ones, colleagues, and friends who might have been affected by the controversy.
She said her earlier IG post was only meant to update her followers that she was traveling abroad for work and she had never anticipated the serious harm her innocent action would cause.
Then came the confession: “I love my mother country and Hong Kong. I have never supported Hong Kong independence. Unquestionably, I love peace and I hope we shall soon return to our old peaceful ways. I hope my actions will prove myself and I will continue to share positive music and feelings. Let me again deeply apologize to those who have been affected.”
Yung must have thought that she could not afford to antagonize her millions of fans across the border. Indeed, why allow an inconsequential selfie to ruin her career?
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