freedom of speech

Court Jailed an Offender for Damaging a National Flag in Hong Kong

This action resulted in 4 and a half months of jail

This action resulted in 4 and a half months of jail on Ku Si Yiu, a high profile popular protester

Today, the Court of Appeal maintained a jail sentence on Ku Si Yiu. Ku, a high profile popular protester in Hong Kong, was originally jailed for 9 months by the lower court. He was represented by Senior Counsel, Martin Lee today at Court of Appeal. The appeal court reduced the sentence to 4 and half months of jail on appeal and said the original jail sentence was too heavy.

China’s national flag has been in use since its adoption in 1949 when the People’s Republic of China was founded. Hong Kong is part of the territory under China’s sovereign. Its use of the national flag is governed by the NATIONAL FLAG AND NATIONAL EMBLEM ORDINANCE. There are particular points to be noted when a national flag is used. First, a national flag or a national emblem which is damaged, defiled, faded or substandard must not be displayed or used. Second, the national flag for flying for hanging may be manufactured in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region only by enterprises designated by the Central People’s Government and the same must be manufactured in accordance with the specifications specified in laws. Non-observance can result in injunction and forfeiture.

Apart from that, there are very interesting points to note. A national flag, when used, gives the impression of Government’s authority and is symbolic with a country. However, the law says the national flag or its design must not be displayed or used in trademarks or advertisements. And to provide a monopoly to those who die for the national cause or who are to be remembered as a national hero, no use in private funeral activities can be allowed.

Last but surely not the least, defacing a national flag is despite it causes no harm to one’s property rights or no bodily harm to any person, quite a serious offence. The law provides that a person who desecrates the national flag by publicly and wilfully burning, mutilating, crawling on, defiling or trampling on it commits an offence and is liable on conviction to a fine at level 5 and to imprisonment for 3 years.

Regarding Ku’s case, even with the reduced sentence, it is, in the opinion of the writer of this post, a very heavy punishment and is in fact very much unnecessary. When Ku was sentenced to 9 months of imprisonment at the lower court, he spoke to the magistrate, “I will do this again on release from jail even though you have sentenced me to jail.”

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