Date
22 September 2017
Cheng Chung-tai called the police move a political purge intended to create a semblance of peace and order before Chief Executive-elect Carrie Lam takes office on July 1. Photo: HKEJ.
Cheng Chung-tai called the police move a political purge intended to create a semblance of peace and order before Chief Executive-elect Carrie Lam takes office on July 1. Photo: HKEJ.

Localist lawmaker charged with flag desecration

A lawmaker from localist party Civic Passion has been asked by the police to turn himself in after he was accused of desecrating the Chinese national flag and the Hong Kong flag.

Cheng Chung-tai, 33, said he has been told to report to the Central district police station, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reports.

Cheng called the police move a “political purge” intended to create a semblance of peace and order before Chief Executive-elect Carrie Lam takes office on July 1.

He said he will never yield and does not see any need to respond to the police arrest by appointment.

The incident took place on Oct. 19 last year when Cheng turned small national and Hong Kong flags upside down in the Legislative Council chamber.

It happened during a roll call soon after many pro-establishment lawmakers staged a walkout to prevent two localist lawmakers-elect — Sixtus Baggio Leung  and Yau Wai-ching — from retaking their oaths.

Cheng said nothing can be more absurd than prosecuting him for what he did, adding that the police should have sent the warrant to the Legco president and the Legco Secretariat, not to him, because his act occurred during a Legco session.

He criticized the police for not following the established procedure and doubted the court will accept the case.

A police source said Cheng might be arrested at his home or his office if he fails to respond.

He said the police took six months to move on Cheng, pending instructions from the Department of Justice.

Under the National Flag and National Emblem Ordinance, a person who desecrates the national or regional flag can be fined up to HK$50,000 and sentenced to three years in prison if convicted.

Eric Cheung, a principal lecturer in the University of Hong Kong, said it is disputable whether upending the national flag constitutes an insult.

However, he said the Legislative Council(Powers and Privileges)Ordinance only protects comments but not acts of lawmakers.

Legco president Andrew Leung said he was not notified by the police about the prosecution of Cheng but added he will assist in collecting evidence if needed.

Meanwhile, lawmaker Priscilla Leung, who is in charge of a Legco committee set up for the incident, said it will continue to investigate despite the police move on Cheng.

Under Legco’s Rules of Procedure, Cheng will be disqualified as a lawmaker if two in three lawmakers vote to remove him based on the committee’s final report.

This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on April 11

[Chinese version 中文版]

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