The government is set to table the national anthem bill in the Legislative Council for first reading later this month.
In theory, the bill provides a golden opportunity for the beleaguered pan-democrats to stage a major political comeback.
However, they appear to have been unsuccessful so far in generating much opposition to the bill, which suggests that it is likely to pass Legco easily.
Why? Because I think the pan-dems have completely lost touch with reality on this issue and have focused on trivial matters.
One of their key arguments against the bill is that it would lead to the disqualification of opposition lawmakers in the days ahead as it would require the playing of the national anthem during oath-taking ceremonies for Legco members.
This is definitely a life-and-death issue for pan-dems, but it is hardly a cause for concern for average citizens.
Moreover, pan-dems are kicking up a fuss about the two-year statute of limitations for pressing criminal charges against offenders as stipulated in the bill. This, too, hardly resonates with the general public.
What Hong Kong citizens are truly worried about is the possibility that they might inadvertently fall victim to any legal trap under the new law, rather than some technical details such as statute of limitations.
Regardless of whether or not the government will hold a public consultation on the issue, our society already has a pretty in-depth understanding of the national anthem bill.
The overwhelming majority of our citizens aren’t against the intent of the bill, which is to promote respect for the national anthem. They are also not worried about their freedom and rights being undermined by the new law.
So unless the pan-dems reflect on their own ideology and formulate a new strategy, it is just a matter of time before they end up losing their Legco seats one after another.
And by that time, they probably wouldn’t have to worry about getting disqualified under the new national anthem law because the voters themselves are going to disqualify them in the upcoming elections.
This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on Jan 14
Translation by Alan Lee with additional reporting
[Chinese version 中文版]
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