Date
25 November 2017
Chief Executive Carrie Lam said the government aims to submit a draft of the bill during the current term of the Legislative Council. Photo: Reuters/RTHK
Chief Executive Carrie Lam said the government aims to submit a draft of the bill during the current term of the Legislative Council. Photo: Reuters/RTHK

Anthem law unlikely to have retroactive effect, Lam says

Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor said the national anthem law is unlikely to take effect retroactively in Hong Kong as far as criminal prosecution of violators is concerned, easing public concerns.

People should not worry about unintentionally breaking the anthem law after it is enacted, as the original purpose of the local legislation is to respect the nation’s symbol and emblem, Lam told media before attending a regular Executive Council meeting on Tuesday.

That said, Lam called on citizens not to intentionally disrespect the national anthem before the legislation work is completed.

Lam’s remarks on the retroactive effect issue were echoed by National People’s Congress (NPC) Standing Committee member Rita Fan Hsu Lai-tai, who said she saw no reason why the law should be made retroactive, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reported.

Hong Kong is aiming to legislate its version of China’s national anthem law after the NPC passed a proposal on Saturday to include the law in the Basic Law, Hong Kong’s mini-constitution.

According to Lam, the government aimed to submit a draft of the bill during the current term of the Legislative Council.

Lam stressed the purpose of enacting the legislation is to let the public know that national emblems, including the national anthem, have to be respected as well as to deter any behavior intended to disrespect the country, which is totally unacceptable.

She said the law has nothing to do with freedom of creation or freedom of expression.

Hong Kong’s constitutional and legal systems will be taken into consideration during the legislative process, Lam said.

She said hopes there will be no unnecessary interference of the legislation work, noting that some people have been trying to create an atmosphere of panic in recent years when it comes to Hong Kong-mainland issues or SAR government-central government issues.

Asked if the government will conduct a public consultation on the anthem law, Lam did not directly respond but said there will surely be social discussions and “consultation to some degree”.

Fan told a radio program on Tuesday that she is not in favor of public consultation but consultation with district councils is doable.

As for law enforcement, Fan said it is impossible for the law to cover every possible situation in detail and therefore whether one breaks the law should be based on common sense and common knowledge.

Law enforcement depends on real-life situations, and is best left to the police, she said.

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TL/JC/CG

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