Popping sounds can be tuned to anthemLocal | Cindy Wan/Phoenix Un 11 Jan 2019
Arise, arise, arise - as in the national anthem so in the lines in a pop number by Hacken Lee.
But Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs Patrick Nip Tak-kuen, who unveiled details of the new law requiring respect for the anthem, has followed up to assure that a couple of pop stars will not go under police scrutiny.
This came as Nip said on radio yesterday that the controversial national anthem bill will be submitted to the Legislative Council for a first reading on January 23.
He was asked about songs that have some lyrics and melodies similar to the March of the Volunteers - specifically if they would be heard as "insulting" the national anthem.
The first is Hacken Lee's Cantonese pop song - the title is lost in translation - that has a line matching lyrics and with the same melody as the anthem. "Arise, arise, arise" comes at the opening of Lee's number while it is in the middle of the anthem.
Another is a Cantonese pop song by Leon Lai Ming, which has the same melody and rhythm as the introduction of the national anthem.
Nip said an entire song had to be considered when trying to determine if it sounded like the national anthem.
So overall the two Cantonese pop songs are acceptable as they were composed with their own lyrics and musical arrangements even though they mimicked parts of the anthem.
Another number raised was the national anthem of the United States presented by American singer Jimi Hendrix in rock style.
On that, Nip said different countries take different attitudes to the rendering of their anthems.
But it is clear for Hong Kong that amending the lyrics or rearranging music is illegal whether or not the creator intends to praise or insult the country.
Nip also said it is all right to sing the anthem with a bad Putonghua accent as most Hongkongers are not native speakers.
Going on to the behavior of legislators, Nip said they should give reasonable explanations if absent from the anthem section of the oath-taking ceremony.
"If lawmakers have a reasonable explanation or do not intend to insult the anthem or express certain political views during the oath-taking, I don't believe there will be any problem," he added.
Andrew Wan Siu-kin of the Democratic Party said Nip's remarks on oath-taking could be extended to ordinary citizens, who might face higher risks of being prosecuted.
"If what Nip said is valid then you will face danger of being sued for acting out of disrespect," Wan said.
Pan-democrat political parties and dozens of civil groups, as well as scores of social activists such as ousted legislators Sixtus Leung Chung-hang and Yau Wai-ching, issued a joint declaration yesterday to express disagreement with the impending anthem legislation and to express fears about threats to freedom of speech.
Former legislator Fung Chi-wood, who helped shape the declaration, sees the anthem bill as being "as harsh as the Basic Law Article 23 enactment, and the government should not adopt it."