Published: 14:41, August 5, 2023 | Updated: 10:04, August 8, 2023
No valid reason for playing separatism-linked song
By Dominic Lee

The High Court of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region recently dismissed an injunction application by the Department of Justice to ban the separatism-linked song Glory to Hong Kong. The verdict has ignited substantial controversy across the city, leading to wide-ranging dissatisfaction among many residents. Through the injunction, the SAR government had tried to criminalize the playing of the song that symbolized the 2019 “black-clad” riots, because of its potential threat to national security and social harmony. Nearly four years after the social unrest, the song has continued to stir anti-national and anti-SAR government emotions. In my view, allowing the separatist song to continue to be played underscores the judiciary’s failure in upholding national security, especially following the introduction of the National Security Law for Hong Kong.

Articles 3 and 8 of the NSL stipulate that the court is obliged to “effectively prevent, stop, and punish acts or activities endangering national security as stipulated by this law and other relevant laws”. In his ruling, the judge acknowledged that the song had been extensively used by rioters to incite secession during the “black-clad” riots. It’s worth noting that an injunction serves as a preventive measure, targeting those who plan to play the song.

We must stand against acts that undermine national security, including playing separatist songs like Glory to Hong Kong, and take necessary steps to safeguard the SAR’s safety and prosperity

Violating the injunction by playing the song would be, in itself, a crime. Therefore, this is a unique legal issue that cannot be refuted simply by insisting that “existing laws are already sufficient”.

Moreover, the judge argued that, given the song’s widespread online circulation, a complete ban would be infeasible. Yet, it’s precisely because of its widespread propagation that an injunction is crucial to thwart its harm. We cannot forgo control of an act merely because it’s challenging to fully prohibit it. The High Court judge also said there were no respondents at the injunction hearing, arguing that issuing it would infringe their right to defend themselves. Historically, especially in injunction hearings, applications are often covertly submitted by applicants. Any party affected by the injunction can apply to overturn it if it deems it to be unfair. From this angle, the judge’s argument appears somewhat overstated.

In reviewing the injunction application, the judge accepted the “friend of the court” suggestion that an injunction would have a global impact. However, it’s important to note that even a globally targeted injunction is fully compliant with the NSL, which is extra-territorial in nature.

National security constitutes the bedrock of Hong Kong’s socioeconomic development. Absent a secure national environment, discussions about the city’s growth would be futile. Safeguarding national security is not just the responsibility of the government’s executive branch – it’s a shared duty of the executive, legislative and judicial branches, including courts. Addressing these issues goes beyond mere legal matters – it’s a critical aspect of national security and societal stability. We should back the government in appealing this verdict, recognizing the potential risks posed by this song. We must stand against acts that undermine national security, including playing separatist songs like Glory to Hong Kong, and take necessary steps to safeguard the SAR’s safety and prosperity.

The author is a member of the Legislative Council and a member of the Central Committee of the New People's Party.

The views do not necessarily reflect those of China Daily.