Hong Kong students punished for singing Canto-pop song with ‘sensitive’ lyrics and chanting protest slogan

  • Two Form Five students in Yuen Long didn’t follow instructions to alter the lyrics when they performed the Dear Jane song ‘Galactic Repairman’
  • The Education Bureau reminded students to follow the national security law and not use school as a place to express political views
SCMP |
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Two students at ELCHK Yuen Long Lutheran Secondary School were punished for singing a song with lyrics that were deemed 'sensitive'. SCMP / K. Y. Cheng

Two students from a Hong Kong secondary school have been punished after performing a hit Canto-pop song with lyrics it deemed sensitive, while one also chanted a protest slogan at the end of a campus competition.

ELCHK Yuen Long Lutheran Secondary School refused to comment on the matter, while the Education Bureau has contacted the school and reminded all students to abide by the national security law.

The news of the punishment, which saw both pupils handed demerits, triggered a wave of online support for the pair, while a teachers’ union urged schools not to overreact to student behaviour.

“Teens need to be monitored”, says Carrie Lam

According to students at the school, the Form Five duo performed the song Galactic Repairman by local band Dear Jane in a school competition’s preliminary and final rounds, but were told to change some of its lyrics to terms related to fighting the coronavirus pandemic.

At least five pupils told the SCMP on Thursday that although the pair sang an altered version in the preliminary round, they used the song’s original lyrics in the finals last month, which was attended by the whole student body.

“One of the pair shouted ‘Hongkongers, add oil!’ when they finished singing,” said a female student, 14, who attended the performance and wished to remain anonymous.

A still from the

The song was first released in March last year and was an instant hit on different charts, with millions of views online. Its lyrics include the lines, “in this terrible situation, we can only confront it”, and “repairing this world in turmoil”.

While the reason for the punishment remained unclear, one student said she believed it was because the duo sang the original version of the song. They had also been banned from taking part in extracurricular activities on behalf of the school, another student said.

In a reply to the SCMP, an Education Bureau spokeswoman said they would remain in close contact with the school and said “no one should use schools as a venue for expressing their political demands”.

Hong Kong’s Chief Executive says national security law has strengthened press freedom

Schools were reminded to “appropriately educate students about the importance of national security and remind them to abide by the relevant legislation,” she said.

After the 2019 anti-government protests, education minister Kevin Yeung Yun-hung said pupils should not sing songs with political messages on campus, raising the example of the protester anthem Glory to Hong Kong.

According to sweeping guidelines on national security education issued by the government in February, schools must stop students from singing songs with political messages and chanting political slogans.

National security guidelines difficult to implement in schools

Educators have also been asked to remind students that their acts might violate the security law depending on the situation, and to call the police if the matter was “grave or an emergency”.

Ip Kin-yuen, vice-president of the Professional Teachers’ Union and a former opposition lawmaker, said schools being more anxious about students’ behaviour because of the national security legislation could affect the relationship between teachers and students.

“Whether an incident is politically or not politically connected, [schools] nowadays might be oversensitive about it,” he said. “Eventually, this could affect teacher-student relationships and have an impact on the entire education sector.”

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