As per annual traditions, a rally was held on 1st January. 5500 protesters headed to the streets at the beginning of the year to express their hope that in the new year, the government would restart the political reform process and not go through with the national anthem law. Ex-Chief Executive Mr C.Y. Leung’s UGL saga was also mentioned as one of the pleas of the crowd. The statement of Civil Human Rights Front – the hosting organisation – can be found here [only available in Chinese]. For more details, you can read this article published by Hong Kong Free Press.
In the past month, we have lost a dear friend and ally Lord Ashdown. He was a champion of human rights and freedom in Hong Kong, and has been active in speaking on Hong Kong’s issues in the British Parliament. We offer our sincerest condolences to Lord Ashdown’s family and our deepest gratitude to Lord Ashdown.
Member of the Legislative Council Eddie Chu was disqualified from running in a rural representative election. He was deemed to “implicitly” support independence since he did not express opposition to it. Speaking to journalists outside of the Legislative Council Complex, Chu said, “I think the incident has revealed this logic – not only must you not advocate independence, you have to oppose it […] I have not moved the goalposts. I have not changed. The ones that moved the goalposts are the Special Administrative Region government, and the liaison office, and Beijing, which has been manipulating the SAR government behind the scenes.” The Hon. Eddie Chu’s official response in Chinese can be found here , while the coverage on the disqualification by South China Morning Post can be read here .
The Hong Kong Government released the bill for the controversial National Anthem Law this month. The bill stipulates that the education of the Chinese National Anthem, its history and its principles will be compulsories at all Hong Kong schools, including at international schools. The law moves to forbid any sort of derivative work from the National Anthem, and is seen as a prelude to the invoking of Article 23 of the Hong Kong Basic Law.
Under the new law, football fans booing the National Anthem could face penalties, and infractions of the law will mainly depend on the intent of the individual. Even the Chief Executive Carrie Lam herself pointed out that it would be “difficult” to define an “insult[…] to the dignity of the national anthem” – a key phrase of the bill itself.
Beijing’s unprecedented tightening on Hong Kong’s basic freedom of speech and rule of law has caused serious concern in Hong Kong’s civil society. A joint statement from student unions of higher institutions in Hong Kong can be found here , an article by Joshua Wong published in the Washington Post on this topic can be found here , and a joint statement between the League of Social Democrats, the Civic Party, People’s Power, Student Fight for Democracy, Socialist Action, and the Labour Party can be found here [only available in Chinese].