Anthem legislation prep work under way

Top News | Phoebe Ng 17 Oct 2017

Preparatory work for the national anthem legislation is already under way, says the Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs, Patrick Nip Tak-kuen.

Nip reckons local legislation would be sufficient and should not have any retrospective effect.

He was commenting on a suggestion that such a law be drafted and promulgated immediately by the Basic Law Consultative Committee and the Department of Justice.

This suggestion was spurred by the latest booing of the national anthem earlier this month just before the Asian Cup qualifier kicked off.

He agreed that enactment of such a law should be done as quickly as possible, but said local legislation on this should be adequate.

"Any local enactments should be done in accordance with Hong Kong laws and the constitution," Nip said.

Nip said the national anthem was a "symbol of China," and booing cannot be tolerated. He also confirmed that in principle new laws would not be retroactive.

The secretary has yet to give a precise timetable but said the legislative procedure would begin after it had been inserted in Annex III of the Basic Law by Beijing.

The government would first look into the national anthem law which was adopted by China early this month.

Nip also emphasized on a radio program that the Greater Bay Area project would give Hong Kong an economic boost just when it was needed.

Nip said the Greater Bay Area, including nine Guangdong cities and Hong Kong and Macau, could reinforce and elevate traditional sectors while offering opportunities to develop new ones, especially in innovation and technology.

"The area has great economic power," Nip said, adding that 5 percent of the national population residing within it accounted for 10 percent of the national GDP.

"For example, Hong Kong has a reputation for medical and life science, the problem is how to capitalize on it for mass production," Nip said. "It requires land and human resources, so we can benefit from the Bay Area project."

Nip said with the completion of the Express Rail Link as well as the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge, Guangdong west - with its abundant land - would become more accessible. An office has been set up under the bureau to promote Hong Kong's role in the mega-city project.

Major responsibilities will be liaising within the SAR government and with stakeholders, and with the Guangdong, Macau and central governments.

"The attitude of the central government is crystal clear," Nip said. "They would back anything that's good for Hong Kong's development."

Echoing Nip, Hong Kong University of Science and Technology president Tony Chan Fan-cheong said the Bay Area would be Hong Kong's last chance to catch up on innovation technology development.

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