The court will move forward with the case of Civic Passion lawmaker Cheng Chung-tai’s alleged desecration of the regional and national flags.

Cheng was seen flipping the flags in protest during a legislative session last October. He was subsequently charged with desecrating the regional and national flags, and has denied both counts.

Pro-establishment lawmakers Ann Chiang and Edward Lau both testified before the Eastern Magistrates’ court on Thursday. The prosecution also submitted CCTV footage and news clips as evidence.

File photo: In-Media.

Lau told the court that, in response to those who “insulted the country” and “advocated Hong Kong independence” during their oath-taking, he decided to hand out 12 sets of national and regional flags at the second legislative meeting for other lawmakers to display on their desk, as a reminder that the country should be respected.

Lau added that during the recess, he saw Cheng turning the flags upside down on the television stream. Lau admitted that his flag replicas did not fully meet the legal requirements for the dimensions and proportions of flags. However, he said he believes they carry a symbolic significance and should be seen as flags.

File photo: In-Media.

Chiang said that she was very angry after seeing Cheng’s actions on the television stream and returned to the legislative council chambers to reprimand Cheng.

Magistrate Cheng Lim-chi ruled that Cheng has a case to answer – meaning there is sufficient evidence to move forward with the case – and said the only point of contention is whether Cheng’s behaviour constituted desecration.

The hearing will resume next Friday. Cheng will not testify or call any witnesses, Apple Daily reported.

Cheng Chung-tai. File photo: In-Media.

It is an offence to desecrate the national or regional flags by methods such as “burning, mutilating, scrawling on, defiling or trampling on it.” It carries a maximum penalty of a HK$50,000 fine and three years behind bars.

Karen is a journalist and writer covering politics and legal affairs in Hong Kong for HKFP. She has also written features on human rights, public space, regional legal developments, social and grassroots activism, and arts & culture. She is a BA and LLB graduate from the University of Hong Kong.