5 Hong Kong speech therapists jailed for 19 months each for sedition over children’s books


Melody Yeung, the external vice chair of the speech therapists’ union, told the court she hoped she could always “stand on the side of the sheep” – referring to characters from the kids’ books. After she finished speaking, some court goers could be seen crying.

Five Hong Kong speech therapists have each been sentenced to 19 months behind bars under the colonial-era sedition law. They were convicted of publishing a series of illustrated books that effectively “brainwashed” young readers, a judge ruled.

District Judge Kwok Wai-kin meted out jail terms to Lorie Lai, Melody Yeung, Sidney Ng, Samuel Chan and Fong Tsz-ho on Saturday, three days after he found them guilty of conspiring to print, publish, distribute and display three books with seditious intent between June 2020 and July 2021.

sedition sheep
A page from a picture book produced by the General Union of Hong Kong Speech Therapists. Photo: Kelly Ho/HKFP.

The books in question, which were about sheep and wolves, were said to have alluded to the 2019 anti-extradition bill unrest, the detention of 12 Hong Kong fugitives by the Chinese authorities, and a strike staged by Hong Kong medics at the start of the Covid-19 outbreak.

The five executive committee members of the General Union of Hong Kong Speech Therapists, aged between 26 and 29, had denied the charge.

‘In effect brainwashing’

When handing down the sentence, judge Kwok said what the speech therapists did with the illustrated books was “in effect brainwashing” young readers.

Fear, hatred, discontent and disaffection were “instilled” in the minds of children through the books’ publication, Kwok said. He cited a media interview one of the defendants gave, in which the speech therapist said some young readers told them they would “fight” the wolves, while others said they would run away from the wolves.

“Once they have internalised this mindset… the seed of instability has actually been sown in the HKSAR,” the judge said.

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5 Hong Kong speech therapists jailed for 19 months each for sedition over children’s books