Hong Kong Secretary for Education Kevin Yeung has said that no one in schools should “hold any activities to express their political stance,” and schools must not allow students to play, sing or broadcast the protest song Glory to Hong Kong on campuses.

In a written reply to lawmaker Ip Kin-yuen’s questions regarding students’ freedom of expression on Wednesday, Yeung said no “political propaganda” activities should be allowed in schools. He claimed it was the “general consensus” of the education sector that students should not be “incited” to show their stance on controversial or evolving political issues.

student human chain extradition protest
Hong Kong secondary students hold a banner that featured protest slogan “Five demands, not one less” during last year’s anti-extradition bill movement. Photo: Studio Incendo.

“No one, including students, should play, sing and broadcast songs which contain political messages or hold any activities to express their political stance,” Yeung wrote.

He referred to Glory to Hong Kong, which is widely considered the “anthem” of last year’s anti-extradition bill movement. He said the song contained “strong political messages” and was closely linked to violence and illegal acts, and thus students must not play, sing or broadcast it in schools.

Last month, a music teacher at Heung To Middle School accused the school of not extending her contract after she let students play the protest anthem during an assessment.

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The education minister also slammed individuals and groups as having “ulterior motives,” in addition to those who had “deliberately misled” pupils to take part in activities such as class boycotts, human chain protests and chanting of political slogans in schools over the past year. He said some student demonstrations had caused nuisance to residents in the neighbourhood, leading to confrontations and injuries.

Hundreds of secondary student concern groups were formed last June at the beginning of the year-long pro-democracy movement. Many students showed solidarity with the large-scale protests, which escalated into sometimes violent displays of dissent against police behaviour, amid anger over Beijing’s encroachment.

“It is heartbreaking to see our students being used as political chips. We strongly condemn the acts of these people who have been causing harm to our students, the EDB will do our best to protect them,” Yeung wrote.

Kevin Yeung
Kevin Yeung. File photo: RTHK Screenshot.

Last Thursday, the Hong Kong government stated that protest slogan “Liberate Hong Kong, revolution of our times” has connotations of Hong Kong independence, secessionist or subversive intent, thus banned under the Beijing-enforced national security law. The slogan is part of the lyrics of Glory to Hong Kong.

At a press briefing on Tuesday, Chief Executive Carrie Lam did not respond to HKFP’s question over whether the song would be criminalised under the legislation that also punishes terrorism and foreign interference. HKFP has reached out to the Security Bureau for comment.

Ho Long Sze Kelly is a Hong Kong-based journalist covering politics, criminal justice, human rights, social welfare and education. As a Senior Reporter at Hong Kong Free Press, she has covered the aftermath of the 2019 extradition bill protests and the Covid-19 pandemic extensively, as well as documented the transformation of her home city under the Beijing-imposed national security law.

Kelly has a bachelor's degree in Journalism from the University of Hong Kong, with a second major in Politics and Public Administration. Prior to joining HKFP in 2020, she was on the frontlines covering the 2019 citywide unrest for South China Morning Post’s Young Post. She also covered sports and youth-related issues.