Carrie Lam throws support behind college that removed two students from graduation ceremony over anthem disrespect
Hong Kong’s leader praises principal for handling of duo who refused to stand, saying such behaviour ‘should not be tolerated’
Hong Kong’s leader on Monday weighed in on the brewing row over two college students being kicked out of their graduation ceremony for refusing to stand for the national anthem, affirming the school’s handling of the case.
Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor said any act of disrespecting the national anthem “should not be tolerated” in the city, adding that the government would soon launch a consultation on the introduction of a local version of the anthem law.
Officials are aiming for a draft legislation to be tabled to the Legislative Council next year.
Lam was speaking to the press after officiating the Hong Kong Awards for Industries event at the Convention and Exhibition Centre in Wan Chai.
“I note that during a recent graduation ceremony at the Hong Kong College of Technology, there was a very small number of students showing disrespect for the national anthem. I fully affirm the involvement of principal Chan Cheuk-hay and his way of handling the issue,” Lam said.
She was referring to an incident on Saturday when two students of the college were kicked out of their graduation ceremony after defying a school rule and refusing to stand for the national anthem.
The pair were ordered to leave, and more than 10 students also walked out to show support for the duo. All of them were reportedly not awarded graduation certificates. The students said the college had “implemented the national anthem law even before it is legislated here”.
Chan argued that the school had never deprived students of the opportunity to learn regardless of their political stance, but he expected them to respect the school’s policy on the anthem.
On Monday, a college spokesman said Chan was unavailable for further comment because he was away on holiday.
Lam also said: “Although we have not made a national anthem law, I hope citizens can respect and safeguard the dignity of the national anthem.”
Last month, China’s top legislative body, the National People’s Congress Standing Committee, inserted the national anthem law into Hong Kong’s mini-constitution and also endorsed a change to the mainland criminal code to make abuse of the anthem or flag across the border punishable by up to three years in prison.
The Hong Kong government will have to adopt the measure by way of local legislation that is consistent with the city’s constitutional and legal system under the “one country, two systems” policy.
Meanwhile, He Jing, deputy director of the central government’s liaison office in Hong Kong, said sales of President Xi Jinping’s report on the 19th party congress had hit 60,000 copies in Hong Kong.
Speaking to rural leaders on Monday at a Heung Yee Kuk seminar, He urged Hongkongers to pick up a copy to read as it might “yield dividends”.
He also said that Xi spoke highly of Lam during her duty visit to Beijing last week and that he felt Hong Kong people were closer to reaching a consensus on legislation to safeguard national security.
But Lam declined to comment on when her administration would enact the controversial national security law, saying only that it was not a topic discussed during a weekend government brainstorming session.