On October 5, 14 students from Francis Xavier High School in Tsuen Wan Township, Hong Kong, were accused of “disrespecting the school.” They violated the national security law by not being present when the national anthem was played during a flag-raising ceremony. The students were suspended from school for at least 3 days. Democrats in hong Kong say the punishment is too harsh. Some argue that the school has abused its power and should be held accountable.
According to HK01, at 8:05 a.m. on October 5, some students from St. Francis Xavier High School in Tsuen Wan town were still eating breakfast in the playground’s eating area.
Suddenly, the national anthem “March of the Volunteers” was played in the school, making 14 students unable to concentrate. Then the vice principal of the school came out to the playground and complained.
The vice principal and head of the education department said that these students had violated the national security law and they had to inform the police. Immediately after learning about the incident, Principal He zhi Hong suspended the 14 students for 3 days.
Parents: The school’s method is too rigid
The Epoch Times said that Chen, a student’s parent, criticized the school for being too rigid. Most of the 14 students are about to graduate from middle school. If they can’t concentrate and stand respectfully in front of the national anthem, they are expelled from school, it is equivalent to ruining their past efforts and their futures. the parent said that she believes that this precedent will be followed in other schools, and it puts great psychological pressure on students. She also pointed out that after the incident, her son was afraid to go back to school and couldn’t concentrate on his homework.
Student: I didn’t know there would be the flag raising ceremony
Vision Times said, one of the students involved told the media that only when the flag bearer entered, did he realize that there was a flag-salute ceremony. So he did not have time to stand up. But the principal decided that since the students did not stand up to salute the flag, so they were suspended for 3 days as a warning.
Several other students told Mingpao that they had eaten breakfast at the playground and stood up knowing the flag was about to be raised. But the vice principal later reprimanded them for not getting up.
Violation of school rules
According to Yahoo Taiwan, Vice Principal Luo Cuilian responded to the incident. The national anthem was not suddenly sung that day, but had been announced in advance. However, the students still ate their breakfast.
She explained that she neither spoke directly to the children nor accused them of violating the national security law. When the principal was reprimanding the children, she only warned that similar behavior outside the school could violate the national security law.
Democratic education policy representative: Schools are too sensitive, depriving students of their right to attend school
The Democratic Party’s education policy representative, Zhou Ziluo, criticized the school because the punishment was too severe, stripping students of the right to attend school, and asked the school to reconsider.
He said the students involved were not against the implementation of the regulations at that time. In addition, some of the children insisted that they stood while the national anthem was played, which is different from the school’s statement. But regardless of the facts, the children were suspended.
He said that after the school gave unreasonable punishments, they gave instructions to the children. It was clearly doing things in the wrong order. The school should be a place to guide students, and the punishments should be severe. Being harsh on first-time offenders will only be counterproductive.
He also said that schools should not be too sensitive about the flag-raising ceremony.
Commentator: Schools must be held accountable for abuse of power
Hong Kong news commentator Jason Chuk-Hung Poon posted on Facebook, Firstly, 14 students did not know that the school suddenly raised the national flag and played the national anthem, so they still sat down to have breakfast. Vice Principal Luo Cui Lian cannot just blame the students, without reconsidering the school’s responsibility to advise and inform them, as well as its responsibility to manage conflicts between the flag salute and breakfast time. The school should not suspend the students for 3 days.”
He went on to say that a student can be suspended if there is a threat to the safety of the teachers or students. But the vice principal clearly abused her power and she should be held accountable.
Poon concluded with, Thirdly, having breakfast during the national flag raising ceremony and singing the national anthem is not related to the national security law, but rather to the “Regulations on the National Flag” and “Regulations on the National Emblem“. Luo was wrong when she accused the students of violating the national security law, and threatened to call the police.
Vision Times said that netizens left messages saying that this time there was another incident that made the parents decide to leave.
Since the national security law was implemented in Hong Kong on July 1, 2020, there has been an unexpected wave of emigration and it shows no signs of abating. According to NetEase, in the second half of 2020 and the first half of 2021, the number of migrants in Hong Kong was 54,116 and 56,369 respectively. But only in the second half of 2021 nearly 100,000 people left. By 2022, the number of migrants continued to increase. In February and March alone, the number of migrants reached 99,018, compared with only 11,829 in the same period last year.