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Cantonese Language Advocacy Group Ceases Operation Amid National Security Bureau Investigation

The chairman of Societas Linguistica Hongkongensis (SLHK), a Cantonese language advocacy group in Hong Kong, has announced the immediate cessation of its operations amid an investigation into suspected violations of Hong Kong’s National Security Law. The investigation centered around Chan Lok Hang, a Hong Kong Baptist University graduate who previously initiated a referendum against mandatory Mandarin education at the university.

Hong Kong’s National Security Bureau (NSS) officers searched Chan Lok Hang’s residence and questioned those present, expressing concern about a Cantonese essay competition organized by SLHK three years ago. The officers said that one of the essays may have violated Hong Kong’s National Security Law. As Chan was not present in Hong Kong during the search, the NSS officers relayed a message to him through his family.

To safeguard his family and former SLHK members, Chan sought legal counsel, halted all SLHK operations, and began dissolving the organization. SLHK had been registered for a decade with the goal of safeguarding the language rights of Hong Kong residents.

Chan, a biomedical sciences graduate, gained recognition during his studies for advocating Cantonese and opposing the use of Mandarin for teaching Chinese in primary and secondary schools. He led a campaign against Mandarin language requirements at Hong Kong Baptist University, which has traditionally demanded students to pass a Mandarin exam before graduation. In 2016, Chan organized a successful referendum with over 400 student signatures, 90% opposing mandatory Mandarin study. This movement even led to a temporary occupation of the university’s language center. After a hearing, Chan received a service order from the university management.

Source: Central News Agency (Taiwan), August 29, 2023