Sidney Ng, the former Secretary of the General Union of Hong Kong Speech Therapists, was sentenced to 19 month in jail after convicted of sedition over publishing children’s book.
She has written the below petition letter. The letter was read out by the lawyer on behalf of her in the court on 10 September 2022.
by Sidney Ng
(Translated from the Chinese version)
The union (GUHKST) was established with the mission of “walking with the voiceless”. It is surprising that the Hong Kong Trade Union Registry deregistered such a small, unremarkable union on the grounds of “suspected of endangering national security”.
The prosecution said the union “provoked discontent or disaffection amongst the people in Hong Kong”. This was not the case. By contrast, the union was in fact a platform to gather and connect fellow workers in the same occupation, and let our industry be heard. The prosecution said that the union was politicised. This accusation ignored how political structures and policies impacted union members as speech therapists, or simply as Hongkongers.
Nowadays, it is no longer easy to connect with each other in Hong Kong. In addition to unions, political parties, professional bodies, non-governmental organisations, media outlets, and even churches are disbanding. This case is just a sketch of the social climate. The charges against the union have effectively intimidated civil society and increased estrangement amongst Hong Kong people. This is a result that none in Hong Kong would like to see.
In the trial after the siege of the Polytechnic University, defendant Tang Kam-Lok quoted a speech by Albert Camus, the Nobel laureate in literature, in his defence. Here, I quote another part of that speech. “[The writer] cannot put himself today in the service of those who make history; he is at the service of those who suffer it. Otherwise, he will be alone and deprived of his art.”
Similarly, education should serve the people who suffer from history. The defendants in front of the court today are speech therapists, who know the importance of teaching children to distinguish right and wrong. They also believe that the essence of education should be enlightenment and nurture instead of intimidation and indoctrination. The same rule applies when it comes to explaining the relations between individuals and the state to children.
Rather than provoking hatred, these three picture books explain the cause of these emotions and how these emotions intensified after 2019. Rather than encouraging children not to abide by the law, these books asked the children to reflect on the foundation of observing the law, which should not be blind obedience out of fear. Rather than inciting anything at all, these books documented courageous acts of justice.