Anthem bill set for second Legco reading

Local | Amy Nip 18 Oct 2019

The controversial National Anthem Bill will return to the Legislative Council for the second reading debate within this legislative year.

If passed, the bill will prohibit people from deliberately altering the anthem and singing it in a distorted or derogatory manner. Anyone found guilty of insulting the anthem is liable to a maximum fine of HK$50,000 or three years' imprisonment.

The government postponed the bill in June to make way for the now withdrawn Fugitive Offenders Amendment Bill, but the latter has led to waves of protests and violence.

In the latest document sent to lawmakers yesterday, the Constitutional and Mainland Affairs Bureau said: "The government plans to resume Second Reading debate on the National Anthem Bill for its early passage in the 2019-2020 legislative session."

Legco went through the bill's first and second readings this January. After 17 meetings and over 50 hours of deliberation, the Bills Committee completed the scrutiny of the bill on May 24.

"Our legislative principle is to maintain the purpose and intent of the National Anthem Law to fully reflect its spirit and to preserve the dignity of the national anthem, so that our citizens would respect the national anthem, whilst taking into account our common law system and the actual circumstances in Hong Kong," the bureau stated.

The standing committee of the National People's Congress decided to add the law to Annex III of the Basic Law in November 2017. National laws listed in the annex shall be applied locally by way of promulgation or legislation by the HKSAR, which the government opted for local legislation.

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