Legco passes national anthem law

Top News | Michael Shum 5 Jun 2020

It is now officially illegal to insult or misuse the national anthem after the controversial March of the Volunteers bill was passed in the Legislative Council yesterday though only after two stinky incidents.

Erick Tsang Kwok-wai, secretary for constitutional and mainland affairs, said the ordinance will be gazetted next Friday and take effect immediately.

The third reading of the National Anthem Bill started just before noon after all amendments tabled by the pan-democratic camp were voted down.

But an hour later, pro-democracy lawmakers Eddie Chu Hoi-dick and Raymond Chan Chi-chuen splashed a brown substance in the chamber, setting off a bad smell as the pair were ordered thrown out by acting legislative president Starry Lee Wai-king.

She also adjourned the meeting in short order as police and firemen arrived to investigate.

Safely outside and beyond the stink, Chu revealed the liquid was biofertilizer and the stunt was staged to coincide with June 4.

"A murderer stinks forever," he said. "What we did today was to remind the world that we should never forgive the Chinese Communist Party for killing its own people 31 years ago."

And Fire Services Department divisional officer Yeung Kai-wang said: "We found two plastic bottles alongside brown unknown substances and also bodies of insects. Our detectors showed the substances were neither flammable nor toxic."

The meeting resumed after three hours in a conference room, but the Democratic Party's Ted Hui Chi-fung promptly spilled brown liquid on the floor. He was kicked out immediately.

Still, legislative president Andrew Leung Kwan-yuen, back in charge, did not adjourn the meeting but pressed on.

Only five lawmakers had spoken when the bill was put to a vote. And Tsang's 65-second speech was drowned out by pan-democratic protests.

Leung ignored points of order shouts and the bill was passed with a 41-1 vote in favor. Civic Passion's Cheng Chung-tai was the one against.

Leung said after the meeting: "I did not cut the meeting short, I did not push through the bill. I scheduled 30 hours for discussion and I worked according to schedule."

But 22 pro-democracy lawmakers issued a statement to condemn Leung going along "with the ruler and barging through the third reading and a vote."

The legislation came after football fans turned their backs and booed during the anthem before various football matches.

Some of them could soon be prosecuted for insulting the anthem as prosecutions can go through two years after an offense. And there are penalties of up to three years behind bars and a HK$50,000 fine.

Authorities have pledged to go easy on people who are being distracted or in discomfort when the anthem plays. But anyone altering its words or playing and singing in a distorted or disrespectful way can be prosecuted.

Likewise, anyone using the anthem commercially or as background music in a public place - including at private funerals - could pay.

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