HK passes national anthem bill

The United Front Supporting National Security Legislation holds a press conference on Monday, saying that 2.92 million Hong Kong citizens have signed a petition in support of the proposed national security legislation. Photo: cnsphoto

Hong Kong lawmakers passed the national anthem bill on Thursday, which was considered a victory for the pro-establishment group amid the intensifying political battle, as the bill had been delayed due to disruptions from pan-democratic legislators. 

Forty-one voted in favor of the bill and one against after three readings – a legitimate move that would punish insulting the anthem for up to three years in prison and a maximum penalty of HK$50,000. 

The passage of the bill comes as pan-democratic legislators had used a series of malicious moves to interrupt the meeting procedures. While some Western media depicted the national anthem bill and upcoming for Hong Kong as “controversial” laws that would erode the high autonomy and freedom of Hong Kong people, some lawmakers and local residents slammed such claims as “untrue.”

Both bills are seen as legitimate as they have nothing to do with infringing on individual rights of Hong Kong people protected by the Basic Law, as some Western media have reported, observers said. The laws would target a small group of people who insult the national anthem or endanger national security. 

The national anthem law has been implemented in the Chinese mainland since 2017, and the National People‘s Congress Standing Committee introduced the law through Annex III of the Basic Law. According to Article 18 of the Basic Law, national laws shall not be applied in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (SAR) except for those listed in Annex III to this law. And the laws listed therein shall be applied locally by way of promulgation or legislation by the region.

The Hong Kong SAR government started pushing forward the promulgation of the national anthem bill since the start of 2018, and deliberations have been delayed due to the month-long social turmoil in the city. 
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