Date
17 January 2019
Oath-taking ceremonies for public officers are among occasions that will require playing of the national anthem under a proposed new law, according to Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs Patrick Nip (inset). Photos: Bloomberg, HKEJ
Oath-taking ceremonies for public officers are among occasions that will require playing of the national anthem under a proposed new law, according to Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs Patrick Nip (inset). Photos: Bloomberg, HKEJ

New law to specify when national anthem must be played, Nip says

Hong Kong’s version of the national anthem law will come with an appendage bearing suggestions as to the occasions and special events that the anthem should be played, Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs Patrick Nip Tak-kuen said on Monday.

Speaking to reporters, Nip said the local version of the national anthem law will take into account Hong Kong’s legal system, its drafting convention and its circumstances instead of just copying the version implemented in the mainland.

Meanwhile, he revealed that a list specifying all the occasions in which the national anthem must be played will be provided in the form of an appendix, which could be subject to revision in the future, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reports.

Nip’s remarks came after he and Under Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs Andy Chan Shui-fu had a meeting with four Democratic Party lawmakers — Andrew Wan Siu-kin, Lam Cheuk-ting, Helena Wong Pik-wan and Ted Hui Chi-fung — in the Legislative Council building on Monday morning to discuss the bill of the national anthem law.

The national anthem law took effect on Oct. 1 last year in the mainland.

Maliciously modifying the anthem’s lyrics or performing it in a derogatory manner as well as using it as background music in commercial advertisements or in public places are offenses under the law.

Based on the decision made by the National People’s Congress Standing Committee on Nov. 4 last year, Hong Kong must add the new law into Annex III of the Basic Law, which lists applicable national laws, at the proper time, meaning the territory will have to legislate its version of the law and implement it.

The draft was tabled to the Legco earlier this year, but it still has not passed the first reading, which was originally scheduled for July before the summer recess began.

Wong said after the meeting that the Constitutional and Mainland Affairs Bureau only provided an excerpt of the bill and that it failed to provide details, such as details regarding the educational aspect.

According to Wong, she had raised concerns with the bureau regarding the enforcement of the national anthem law, and put forward multiple scenarios for inquiry as to whether particular acts would constitute violation of the law.

Wong also had asked the bureau to explain clearly if lawmakers will be in legal trouble or even be barred from running in future elections if they are not present when the national anthem is played in the Legco.

Lawmaker Claudia Mo Man-ching, convener of the pan-democrats’ meeting group of lawmakers, who also met with Nip on Monday to express her discontent over some aspects of the bill, said while democrats, in principle, support legislation of the law, they oppose the proposal of imposing criminal punishments on violators.

Also, the proposed maximum prison sentence of three years for people deemed to have disrespected the national anthem is too heavy, she said.

Mo said she expects the Legco bills committee to examine the draft carefully, scrutinizing it word by word.

Nip, on his part, reiterated that the government hopes the Legco can finish the first reading of the bill in early 2019.

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TL/JC/RC

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