Anthem has a strange, sad backstory

Central Station | Nury Vittachi 11 Jan 2019

Grumbles about the new national anthem laws filled bars, noodle shops and chatrooms in Hong Kong yesterday.

But most comments showed how little people know about it.

Local activists seem to see the song, March of the Volunteers, as an evil hymn praising communist leaders.

But they seem to be confusing it with The East Is Red, written for Mao Zedong, which really was an evil hymn praising communist leaders.

In contrast, March of the Volunteers was written as a theme song for a 1935 movie. The lyricist was eventually locked up by the communists and died in jail.

When China opened up after 1978, The East is Red was sidelined, and March of the Volunteers took its place, so it kind of represents a freer China.

And March of the Volunteers was the song students protesting in Tiananmen Square sang in June 1989 as military forces attacked them.

So it has a rather noble history.

* * *

Since the international licensing conference is running this week in Hong Kong, I wonder if a visiting expert can tell us how to sell March of the Volunteers to US President Donald Trump?

The song's opening lines seem perfect for him: "Rise up, you who refuse to be slaves. Using your flesh and blood, let us build a new great wall."

* * *

If you really don't like the anthem, simply claim to be from another country and sing their anthem instead.

How about this one? "Bright red blood drenches the towns and plains of Kampuchea, our motherland."

The anthem of Western Sahara goes like this: "O sons of the Sahara Cut off the head of the invader."

* * *

Also at lunches in Hong Kong this week, I noticed many people declining the pork dishes, vaguely quoting headlines about "pork diseases."

This is not smart.

The African swine flu virus spreading in China kills pigs but can't spread to humans through meat.

In fact, you should eat more pork dishes - because your next dish of cha siu fan may be your last affordable one.

* * *

Interestingly, I received zero negative comments about Hong Kong's forthcoming politically incorrect funny fat people film festival (this column, Wednesday).

It's okay to talk bluntly about weight in Hong Kong, said teacher Tony Bryant.

"Mr Tony, you have such a big tummy, ha ha," his friends tell him.

He said: "I'm tempted to reply: 'Yes! And you have too many teeth! And you're ugly!"

* * *

Graeme Littler suggested they open the fat people film festival with Winnie The Pooh.

Good idea. A Winnie the Pooh character could shake hands with bigwigs on stage while the Chinese national anthem is played.

That wouldn't remind anyone of anything in particular, I'm sure.

* * *

The Hong Kong Monetary Authority released this image yesterday with a blurb telling us that it shows this week's "high-level Fintech Roundtable".

Seriously, this event needs a new name or a new table.

* * *

Move over, Antman and the Wasp. Taking shape secretly behind the fences at Hong Kong Disneyland is Frozen Land.

There you will be able to visit Elsa and Anna's town, see the ice castle where Elsa hid, buy pretty dresses, and sing along with the movie's songs.

What can I say?

Let it go, let it goooo, turn around and slam the door.

Talk to me: Send ideas and comments via the author's Facebook page or The Standard's Facebook page

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