Local student protest at IFT is an illegal gathering – Secretary for Security

The Macau Secretary for Security, Wong Sio Chak, indicated today that the incident where two Institute for Tourism Studies (IFT) students held posters in support of the Hong Kong protests at the school campus in Taipa was considered an illegal gathering according to the law.

During the press conference on the crime review for the first half of this year held today, it was revealed that police were called on Monday to the Taipa IFT campus after complaints were received that two students were holding this protest.

The two students held posters in support of the Hong Kong in front of the school gate but were quickly sent away and when police arrived at the location they had already left the premises.

“To have a protest in a public space they have to communicate to the same with 15 days in advance […] We’re still in the inquiry phase, but we’re not considering to place criminal responsibility for the students since they are young and might not know the law,” the Secretary said.

The Secretary indicated that this incident was a good opportunity to inform the public of the legal requirements for gatherings and the risks of incurring in crime for holding an unauthorised protest.

Under the current law people or entities wishing to hold meetings or demonstrations using the public highway, public places or open to the public shall give written notice to the commander of the Public Security Police Force (CPSP) in a minimum of three working days in advance or 15 days maximum.

Holding an illegal protest can lead to a prison sentence of up to two years.

However, the same law also indicates that the notice must be signed by three of the promoters, so since only two students were protesting it is not clear how they would constitute a protest.

In a response sent to MNA, the IFT stated that the school ‘respects students’ rights to convey their opinion and their freedom of speech on condition that they abide by Macao’s law and the Institute’s rules and regulations’.

On the first day of the new school year on Monday several university and secondary students across Hong Kong joined a citywide strike and skipped classes to attend rallies in support of the demands expressed by the recent public protests in the city.

According to the CPSP Deputy Commander, Lao Wan Seong, every citizen has the right to express his opinions but in accordance with the law, and considered that action could be seen as a crime of public disobedience.

Police also mentioned the incident in which four students, two boys and two girls, we’re questioned for installing a ‘Lennon Wall’ – post-it mosaic wall expressing support for current protests in Hong Kong – at Nam Vam Lake.

Ms. Lao noted that the students were “placing inappropriate materials in public spaces” and that the four were released after questioning.

[Updated to include the IFT response]