Civic Passion lawmaker Cheng Chung-tai appeared in court on Thursday and denied two charges of desecrating the regional and national flags last October during a Legislative Council session.
The incident occurred when Cheng turned the Chinese national flag and the Hong Kong SAR flag upside down on the desks of pro-establishment lawmakers twice during a Legco meeting, Apple Daily reports.
Pro-establishment lawmakers Ann Chiang Lai-wan and Edward Lau Kwok-fan testified before the Eastern magistrates’ court on Thursday.
Lau said that he had brought the flags back to the meeting and distributed them to some fellow lawmakers to put on their cup holders.
He told the court that the flags were in response to those who “insulted the country” and “advocated Hong Kong independence” during their oath-taking, and for other lawmakers to display on their desks as a reminder that the country should be respected.
Legco chairman Leung Kwan-yuen warned Cheng two times but he did not listen, the court heard.
Lau decided to take the matter to the court that night, claiming Cheng’s actions violated section seven of the National Flag and National Emblem Ordinance and the Regional Flag and Regional Emblem Ordinance.
Lau admitted in court that he did not verify if his flag replicas met the legal requirements for the dimensions and proportions of national flags. However, he said he believes those replicas carry a symbolic significance and should be seen as national flags.
Chiang told the judge that she was angry after seeing Cheng’s actions on television. She said she returned to the chamber and reprimanded Cheng.
Asked by the defense whether a similar action by others would have constituted desecration of the flags, Chiang said it depends on whether it was done on purpose.
The defense quoted the National Flag and National Emblem Ordinance, which states the HKSAR flag should be on the left while the national flag should be on the right. It asked Chiang whether not putting the flags in that order was a desecration. Chiang said Cheng was not mixing up left and right but overturning the flags which was a different matter.
The judge established the prima facie jurisdiction of the case and said the only point of contention is whether Cheng’s behavior constituted desecration.
Cheng did not call any witnesses or testify and will now await a court verdict on Friday.
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