Hong Kong protests: some schools plan to cancel flag-raising ceremony on Chinese National Day, but Carrie Lam says it will send ‘incorrect message’

Ceremonial raising of the flag of China has been performed on October 1 for years, but some schools fear it will lead to clashes

Kelly Ho |

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The flag-raising ceremony has been performed for years in local schools to celebrate National Day.

Cancelling the flag-raising ceremony in schools on National Day will convey an “incorrect” message, the city’s Chief Executive, Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor, told the media on Tuesday.

Speaking before the Executive Council meeting, Lam responded to the Education Bureau’s comment on some schools’ plans to cancel the flag-raising ceremony before and after October 1, the National Day, in light of the city’s ongoing political crisis, triggered by the now-withdrawn extradition bill.

Lam said she is worried that if schools suddenly call off the ceremony, which they have been performing for years, it would “bring out an incorrect message”.

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She noted that cancelling the ceremony in schools is different from the government’s decision to scrap the fireworks display, since schools may not have to worry about public order and safety. She stressed that the bureau hopes to encourage schools to carry out the ceremony as usual.

On Monday, the bureau criticised schools which planned to cancel the flag-raising ceremony, saying that it would send a “wrong” idea.

Earlier, local media reported that at least three schools in Kwai Tsing District are set to call off the ceremony, fearing that it would lead to clashes between students, alumni and outsiders with different political views.

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The bureau emphasised the cancellation does not help students cultivate their respect for the country and understand the spirit of mutual respect.

Political conflicts should not be brought into schools, and political issues should not affect the work of national education, the bureau added.

This came after Secretary for Education Kevin Yeung Yun-hung’s comment last Saturday that “every Hongkonger should participate in National Day celebrations”.

Yeung believes the ceremony in schools is an opportunity for teachers to explain the meaning and significance behind the flag and the anthem to students.

Edited by M. J. Premaratne