A Hong Kong secondary student on Tuesday said his school had suspended him for two days for wearing his uniform to pro-democracy lunchtime rallies. He quoted school authorities as saying his actions could drag the institution into a “political whirlpool.”

Regular lunchtime protester David – who only goes by his first name – wrote on Facebook that school authorities had informed his parents on Monday that he would face a one-day suspension. The 17-year-old later told Stand News and Apple Daily that his suspension would run from Tuesday to Wednesday.

David police
Police search David during a lunchtime protest. Photo: Stand News.

The school reportedly told David that the arrangement would give him time to reflect on his mistakes and to receive counselling.

Without naming his school, the secondary student shared parts of its message to his parents, which said he was suspended for participating in “political activities” while wearing his uniform, despite repeated warnings from teachers.

David has routinely attended “Lunch with you” protests in shopping malls across Hong Kong, chanting slogans and singing songs related to last year’s anti-extradition bill movement. He has often protested alone or with only a handful of demonstrators.

On Monday, the student handed in a petition addressed to Chief Executive Carrie Lam outside the Central Government Offices. He told reporters that in the letter he had reiterated protesters’ “five demands” and urged the government to help 12 Hong Kong activists detained in mainland China for allegedly illegally crossing the border. The fugitives were intercepted while attempting to flee to Taiwan on a speedboat, local media reported.

He has also staged several silent demonstrations, where he read pro-democracy tabloid Apple Daily in public.

David at a lunchtime protest in the IFC mall.

The school said wearing a uniform while protesting might cause people to mistakenly associate his activities with the institution’s official position, according to David.

“Whether it is reading the newspaper, staging a silent sit-in, chanting slogans or submitting a petition, wearing school uniform during these activities outside of the campus would cause misunderstanding… dragging the school into a political whirlpool,” the school was quoted as saying.

The message also urged the student to remove social media posts calling on people to join demonstrations initiated by him.

“If there is a clash and he initiated the event as its organiser, he may easily fall into legal danger,” it read. “Student, please think thrice and delete the posts as soon as possible.”

David lunch with you
David waves a protest flag and British colonial flag at a lunch time rally. Photo: Kelly Ho/HKFP.

In response to HKFP’s enquiry, Vice-principal Ho Chung-lim confirmed the school had issued a letter to David’s parents but did not mention the suspension. Ho said that, owing to privacy concerns, he could not disclose further details, but said the case did not involve civil rights issues.

The vice school head said David’s schoolmates were concerned about his words and actions, adding that the school hoped the Form Six student could concentrate on his studies.

“The school noticed every student on campus was concerned and worried about [David] Li. For Li to ‘get back on track’ with his studies is what teachers eagerly anticipate,” Ho said in an email reply.

He added that David has become the centre of attention in a series of events, saying the school hopes people could give them some space to prevent students from bearing “unnecessary pressure.”

Kelly Ho has an interest in local politics, education and sports. She formerly worked at South China Morning Post Young Post, where she specialised in reporting on issues related to Hong Kong youth. She has a bachelor's degree in Journalism from the University of Hong Kong, with a second major in Politics and Public Administration.