Five speech therapists jailed for 19 months over seditious children sheep books

Five speech therapists were on Saturday jailed for 19 months for conspiracy to publish and distribute seditious publications over a series of children’s sheep books that hint at social events and tell children they are, in fact, the sheep oppressed by the wolves.

The five are the General Union of Hong Kong Speech Therapists’ chairwoman Lai Man-ling, 26, vice chairwoman Melody Yeung Yat-yee, 27, secretary Sidney Ng Hau-yi, 28, treasury Samuel Chan Yuen-sum, 25, and executive Marco Fong Tsz-ho, 26.

The charge thrown against them occurred between June 2020 and July last year.

Today in District Court, Lai and Yeung both dismissed their lawyers. In mitigation, Lai raised the question of “How free is freedom of speech?” and slashed back at the counterexample of terrorists given by the prosecution.

She was soon stopped by national security judge Kwok Wai-kin who pointed out a courtroom was no place for her to make her own political speech. Kwok also told her to file an appeal to the Court of Final Appeal if she was not satisfied with the final ruling.

On the other hand, Yeung said the publication of the three books should be a judgment on the correct historical viewpoint. She believed history is not absolute and should remain diversified.

Yeung continued that only the people can decide whether the three books can truly reflect public opinion on the history subject.

“I do not regret taking the sheep’s side… My only regret is that I failed to print more copies before being arrested,” she said.

The defense also read Ng’s letter, where she borrowed a quote from an Albert Camus speech, “he [the writer] cannot put himself today in the service of those who make history; he is at the service of those who suffer it.”

All five have been remanded for a year or more since police arrests made on July 22 last year.

They had all pleaded not guilty earlier but were convicted on Wednesday, as Kwok ruled the three drawing books – “Guardians of the sheep village”, “The 12 brave heroes of the sheep village”, and “Cleaner of the sheep village” – are seditious publications after an analysis by the court.

In a written judgment, Kwok said the biggest problem is “they [children] will be told that in fact, they are the sheep, and the wolves trying to harm them are China and Hong Kong” after they finish reading.

He also wrote: “The seditious intention stems not merely from the words, but from the words with the proscribed effects intended to result in the mind of children.”