New arguments in fresh court bid to ban protest song ‘Glory to Hong Kong’ revealed by government

A Hong Kong ban on the promotion of a protest song may prevent unlawful attempts to incite secession or sedition without a “chilling effect”, the justice department has said as it reveals more arguments in its appeal against a court’s refusal to grant an injunction.

The additional grounds provided by the justice secretary were released on Friday, almost two months after a court rejected a government request to ban “Glory to Hong Kong”.

After the Court of First Instance last month gave the green light for the appeal, the department said that Mr Justice Anthony Chan Kin-keung of the High Court had erred in his finding that an injunction could bring about a “chilling effect”.

Secretary for Justice Paul Lam has launched a fresh bid to have controversial song “Glory to Hong Kong” banned. Photo: Yik Yeung-man

The government’s lawyers said the proposed ban was designed only to target unlawful acts that endangered national security.

“It is thus plainly wrong to take into account that perfectly innocent people would distance themselves from what may be lawful acts involving the song if the injunction is granted,” the amended notice of appeal said.

“The criminal law has already carried a deterrent effect. Those sailing close to the wind in case of doubt should not do it.”

Several additional arguments were submitted to the appeal court on September 6 and a hearing is expected to be heard on December 19.

The government argued that the lower court failed to consider the importance of the preventive nature of the ban.

Its lawyers said that a similar injunction to prevent unlawful conduct at Hong Kong International Airport during the 2019 protests was “effective”.

Hong Kong court dismisses government bid to ban protest song

They added the judge’s view that “the more effective tool may be one of education” was without an evidential basis and was “divorced from reality”.

“Public education cannot be compared to a court order which has the force of the law and is far more effective in commanding the public’s attention and compliance; and hence achieving the requisite preventive and suppressive effect,” the new notice of appeal said.

Chan said as he rejected the earlier interim injunction bid that it did not involve “real utility” as acts the government wanted to ban were already punishable under Hong Kong’s criminal law.

But the justice department said in its latest submission that the injunction could amplify the deterrent effect, considering barriers to prosecution as many people used fake names when disseminating the song.

They also argued that there were only “a small number of arrests and successful prosecutions” and that the song remained available on the internet after the Beijing-imposed national security law came into force in 2020.

Justice department appeals against judge’s refusal to ban ‘Glory to Hong Kong’

“Glory to Hong Kong” is seen by authorities as “designed to arouse anti-establishment sentiment and belief” and promote the separation of Hong Kong from mainland China.

It has caused controversy when played by mistake at overseas sports events involving Hong Kong instead of the correct national anthem “March of the Volunteers”.

The government wants to outlaw the promotion of “Glory to Hong Kong” through “broadcasting, performing, ­printing, publishing, selling, ­offering for sale, distributing, disseminating, displaying or reproducing in any way”.

Secretary for Justice Paul Lam Ting-kwok filed the unprecedented legal bid in July in the hope of providing greater leverage to demands that internet service providers remove content related to the protest song.

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