Not The South China Morning Post

Wally Wilde
Jan 4, 2000

On Saturday November 27 this year, the South China Morning Post published a half-page image of a defaced Chinese national flag, to illustrate a story about the richest men in China. The five yellow stars on the flag were replaced by star-shaped portraits of some of the men mentioned in the accompanying text.

A smaller version of the flag appeared alongside, with the stars intact but defaced with the names of each of the men pictured in the larger version.

The publication of the images took place while a Hong Kong Government appeal was pending relating to the very issue of flag defacement.

On New Year's Day 1998, political activists Ng Kung-siu and Lee Kin-yun had "desecrated" a national flag and a regional flag during a pro-democracy march. The two men wrote the word "shame" on both flags, portions of which had been ripped, and displayed them outside a government building.
A magistrate convicted the two in May last year on charges of violating the National Flag and Regional Flag Ordinances by defiling the flags. The pair were fined $2,000 each and bound over for 12 months.

In March this year, the Court of Appeal overturned their conviction, ruling the ordinances unconstitutional because they contravened the guarantee of freedom of expression provided by the Basic Law

On 15 December 1999, kowtowing to political pressure from Peking, the Court of Final Appeal issued an unprecedentedly politicised judgement upholding the Government�s appeal and reinstating the convictions of Ng and Lee. This was a major blow to the freedom of expression in Hong Kong.

Be that as it may, now that the matter is settled, we wonder what action, if any, will be taken against the South China Morning Post for its blatant contempt of the National Flag Ordinance on November 27.
Watch this space...