Hong Kong’s legislature has apologised and promised a “detailed investigation” after it flew the national flag upside-down on Thursday.

Twitter user Tariq Dennison noted that the Five-starred Red Flag had been raised incorrectly outside the complex in Admiralty: “I feel dumb for asking, but hoping someone here can explain to me why the PRC flag flying outside LegCo was upside down this morning, but HK’s flag wasn’t,” he wrote.

Displaying a flag upside down is often considered a sign of distress or protest.

In a response to HKFP‘s enquiries, the Legislative Council Secretariat said that the upside-down flag was in place for almost two hours before being corrected: “[T]he Secretariat immediately raised it properly at 9:54 am. The Secretariat sincerely apologies for the mistake.”

It added that management was “conducting a detailed investigation into the incident and will follow up in accordance with internal human resources policies. The Secretariat has also immediately reviewed and improved the procedures of flag-raising to avoid a recurrence of the mistake in future.”

New provisions for national symbols will make it illegal to fly the flag upside down or dispose of a flag casually next year. The new rules will apply nationally and will force Hong Kong government agencies to fly the flag on working days.

File photo: In-Media via CC2.0.

In 2017, lawmaker Cheng Chung-tai was fined HK$5,000 for turning miniature flags upside down in the legislature.

Tom is the editor-in-chief and co-founder of Hong Kong Free Press. He has a BA in Communications & New Media from Leeds University and an MA in Journalism from the University of Hong Kong. He has contributed to the BBC, Euronews, Quartz, Global Post and others.