Two women accused of publishing seditious children’s books featuring sheep have been remanded in custody.

Speech therapists Lai Man-ling, 25, and Melody Yeung Yat-yee, 27, were denied bail after appearing before Chief Magistrate Victor So in West Kowloon Magistrates’ Court to face a charge of “conspiring to print, publish, distribute, display or reproduce seditious publications.”

West Kowloon Magistrates’ Courts. File photo: Kelly Ho/HKFP.

They were arrested on Thursday along with three other members of the General Union of Hong Kong Speech Therapists by the city’s national security police. Lai and Yeung are the chairperson and deputy chairperson of the union.

Both were accused of publishing three “seditious” children’s books, Guardians of the Sheep Village, 12 Warriors of the Sheep Village, and Dustman of the Sheep Village with the intention to “bring into hatred or contempt or to excite disaffection” against the government and “the administration of justice in Hong Kong,” their charge sheet read.

The pair are also accused of publishing the books with the intention “to incite persons to violence, and/or to counsel disobedience to law or to any lawful order.”

Sheep masks

Ahead of the hearing, six members of the Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions held up paper face masks of sheep outside the court building.

During the hearing, which started more than an hour later than scheduled, chief magistrate So – who is one of Hong Kong’s specially appointed national security judges – referred to a spelling mistake on the charge sheet and pointed out that the prosecution had left out the word “print” in the charge.

Members from the Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions holding up paper masks of sheep at the West Kowloon Law Courts Building on July 23, 2021. Photo: Candice Chau/HKFP.

The prosecution applied to adjourn the case to allow for more time for investigation, and said that there might be more people charged.

After the court hearing, people in the public gallery shouted “hang in there” to Lai and Yeung and some wiped away tears. Lai and Yeung waved to their families as they left the dock.

Lai retained her right to review her bail status on July 30. The pair will appear in court again on August 30.

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Candice is a reporter at Hong Kong Free Press. She previously worked as a researcher at a local think tank. She has a BSocSc in Politics and International Relations from the University of Manchester and a MSc in International Political Economy from London School of Economics.