A Hong Kong secondary school has punished two pupils after they performed a Canto-pop hit with lyrics deemed sensitive, according to fellow students, while one of the penalised pair also chanted a protest slogan at the end of a campus competition.
ELCHK Yuen Long Lutheran Secondary School refused to comment, while the Education Bureau has contacted the school and reminded all students to abide by the Beijing-imposed national security law.
The news of the punishment, which saw both pupils handed demerits, triggered a wave of support online for the pair, while a teachers’ union urged schools not to overreact to students’ behaviour.
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According to pupils at the school, the Form Five duo performed the song Galactic Repairman by local band Dear Jane in both the competition’s preliminary and final rounds, but were told by the school to change some of its lyrics to terms relating to fighting the coronavirus pandemic.
At least five pupils told the Post on Thursday that although the pair sang an altered version in the preliminary round, they used the song’s original lyrics in the finals last month, which was attended by the whole student body.
“One of the pair shouted ‘Hongkongers, add oil!’ when they finished singing,” said a female student, 14, who attended the performance and wished to remain anonymous.
The song was first released in March last year and was an instant hit on different charts, with millions of views online. Its lyrics include the lines, “in this terrible situation, we can only confront it”, and “repairing this world in turmoil”.
While the reason for the punishment remained unclear, one pupil said she believed it was because the duo sang the original version of the song.
They had also been banned from taking part in extracurricular activities on behalf of the school, another pupil said.
In a reply to the Post, an Education Bureau spokeswoman said they would remain in close contact with the school, adding: “No one should use schools as the venue for expressing their political demands.”
Schools had been reminded to “appropriately educate students about the importance of national security and remind them to abide by the relevant legislations,” she said.
After the 2019 anti-government protests, education minister Kevin Yeung Yun-hung said pupils should not sing songs with political messages on campus, raising the example of the protester anthem Glory to Hong Kong.
According to sweeping guidelines on national security education issued by the government in February, schools must stop pupils singing songs with political messages and chanting political slogans.
Educators have also been asked to remind pupils that certain types of conduct might violate the security law depending on the situation, and to call police if the matter was “grave or an emergency”.
Ip Kin-yuen, vice-president of the Professional Teachers’ Union and a former opposition lawmaker, said generally heightened anxiety about pupils’ behaviour under the national security legislation could affect relationships between teachers and students.
“Whether an incident itself is politically or not politically related, [schools] nowadays might tend to be oversensitive about it,” he said. “Eventually, this could affect teacher-student relationships and have an impact on the entire education sector.”
This article Hong Kong pupils punished for singing Dear Jane hit, which included lyrics school deemed sensitive first appeared on South China Morning Post