Prison for burning China'a flag

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 21 September, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 21 September, 2011, 12:00am


A mainland farmer is the first person to be jailed for burning the national flag in Hong Kong.

Zhu Rongchang, pictured, from Jiangxi, lowered a flag from its pole in Golden Bauhinia Square and lit it with a cigarette lighter on July 22. He was given a three-week sentence on Monday. The maximum penalty is three years' imprisonment.

Zhu, 74, was the third person to be charged under the controversial law. In 1998, a pair of protesters Ng Kung-siu and Lee Kin-yun waved an altered national flag during a peaceful demonstration.

They inked the large star out and wrote the Chinese character for 'shame' on it.

In the Court of Final Appeal, then chief justice Andrew Li Kwok-nang ruled that the law allowed freedom of speech to be restricted.

Young Post readers weighed in with their thoughts:

Olivia Yu, 16, from Sha Tin College thinks freedom of speech is a universal value that should be respected and pursued by all people. 'Every person has the right to express him or herself, whether through speech or burning a flag,' Olivia says. 'If our protests are always subdued or suppressed, freedom of speech and democracy will be lost.'

Zareen Chiba, 17, from Li Po Chun United World College, argues that Zhu can use other ways like verbal protests and petitions to express his discontent. 'Zhu is entitled to voice his personal grudge against the Chinese government,' says Zareen. 'But such expressions must have boundaries, especially if it does not directly convey an issue and is intended as an act of pure offence.'

Janet Tam Ka-wing, 17, from St Rose of Lima's College, says: 'His action is challenging Beijing's authority. The national flag is an important symbol and representation of a country.'

Candace Shevonne Kwan, 17, from St Paul's Convent School, believes the incident could be a catalyst for change and unrest among the public. 'The government may have suppressed a small protest in the belief that it is an isolated accident, but it may trigger more radical protests.'