National anthem bill - it's about time

Updated: 2017-11-01 05:51

(HK Edition)

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The National People's Congress Standing Committee on Tuesday heard draft decisions to apply the newly adopted National Anthem Law in the two special administrative regions of Hong Kong and Macao. Coincidentally, the Asian Football Confederation gave the Hong Kong Football Association a stern warning over its failure to prevent some local fans from insulting the national anthem, thereby breaching AFC rules regarding audience behavior at a recent AFC Asian Cup qualifier.

It is not the first time Hong Kong has been warned by the AFC in this manner. This is all because a small number of misguided local youths showed great disrespect to the national anthem of the People's Republic of China before games began. Their booing was no doubt politically motivated and showed the world how badly educated and ill-informed these offenders really are.

The NPCSC is expected to pass the above-mentioned decisions on Saturday, which will be added to Annex III of the basic laws of the Hong Kong and Macao SARs. This requires them to adopt the National Anthem Law through local legislation. Once the law is applied in Hong Kong no one will be able to mock or insult the national anthem without consequences; there will be penalties for those who publicly show any form of disrespect toward March of the Volunteers.

Some misinformed people may cite freedom of speech or expression as an excuse for violating laws of this nature when they face criminal charges in a court of law. But they will have no one but themselves to blame for not knowing better, as these civil liberties can't and don't put them above any laws.

The National Anthem Law took effect on Oct 1. As expected the NPCSC soon decided to apply it in Hong Kong and Macao through local legislation the same way as the National Flag Law and the National Emblem Law had been - by adding a decision to do so in Annex III of the Basic Law. Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs Patrick Nip Tak-kuen said early this month that preparations for a national anthem bill were already underway. That means it is just a matter of time before a draft bill on the National Anthem Ordinance is presented to the Legislative Council for approval.

Understandably, it is pointless to speculate over the details of the future National Anthem Ordinance before the draft is tabled to LegCo for deliberation. The most important thing now is to educate the public about the dignity and authority of the national anthem and why everyone must abide by the National Anthem Law when they are in China - including in Hong Kong and Macao - where the law applies.

National anthem bill - it's about time

(HK Edition 11/01/2017 page8)