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Friday, September 15, 2017, 00:40
National Anthem Law should be enacted 'asap'
By Joseph Li
Friday, September 15, 2017, 00:40 By Joseph Li

Lawmaker and legal academic Priscilla Leung Mei-fun said the government should introduce a bill to enact the National Anthem Law as soon as possible. (Parker Zheng / China Daily)

HONG KONG - The government should introduce a bill to enact the National Anthem Law as soon as possible, said Priscilla Leung Mei-fun, a legislator from the Business and Professionals Alliance for Hong Kong and a legal academic.

She believes the content of the bill would be straightforward and easy to understand, and the legislative process could be completed within three months.

Leung urged the opposition camp to respect the nation and not filibuster; the lawmaker believes there is no gray area in which they could draw out the process.

The National People’s Congress Standing Committee passed the National Anthem Law on Sept 1, with effect from Oct 1. The legislation will be made the national law applicable to Hong Kong by inclusion in Annex III of the Basic Law.

Some people argue that domestic legislation by the Legislative Council is required because part of National Anthem Law is not consistent with “one country, two systems”. Leung believes domestic legislation can solve the problems easily.

“In the mainland version, some terms such as socialism, security departments and administrative detention for 15 days are not applicable to Hong Kong. However, the problem can be solved by way of legal adaptation, by substituting them with terms that are suitable to Hong Kong,” she told China Daily in an exclusive interview.

“For example, the provision in the Hong Kong law may be modified to ‘respect the mainland’s right to practice socialism’, while the penalty of administrative detention, which does not exist in Hong Kong, may be changed to ‘a fine up to HK$50,000 and imprisonment of three years’ in line with that for offenses related to the national flag and emblem,” Leung said.

“I think the government shall accord high priority to this and introduce a bill into the LegCo after the summer recess and no later than December. Since its wording is simple, straightforward and easy to understand, the legislative process can be finished within three months.”

Leung further warned the opposition camp not to delay or filibuster the legislative process.

“I call for their cooperation and support to safeguard the dignity of the country and national anthem,” Leung said.

“I also hope they will not delay or evade (the legislation process) because that will reflect negatively on Hong Kong. In the absence of national anthem legislation in Hong Kong, people who commit offenses can still be prosecuted because this is part and parcel of Hong Kong laws,” she noted.

Leung also disagreed with the “pan-democrats” that public consultation is needed to enact the National Anthem Law in Hong Kong.

“It is not a case of the government consulting the public before introducing a new policy,” she explained. “Because legislation of the National Anthem Law is mandatory, once it is included in Annex III of the Basic Law.”

She rejected the argument that it is hard to enforce the National Anthem Law in the event of big crowds, such as at soccer matches. “It does not mean the National Anthem Law should not be enforced. Like the illegal ‘Occupy Central’ protests, police arrest people who can be identified and also the ringleaders.”

joseph@chinadailyhk.com

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