Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs Patrick Nip says that the government has already begun preliminary work on the proposed national anthem law.
The law, which criminalises insulting the national anthem March of the Volunteers was approved by China’s legislative body last month and took effect in the mainland on October 1. Violators face detention of up to 15 days by police, or criminal prosecution.
On a RTHK radio programme on Monday, Nip said that the government will initiate local legislative procedures after the national anthem law is incorporated into Basic Law Annex III. The annex specifies the national laws which are to be applied in Hong Kong by the National People’s Congress Standing Committee. He added that he believed the NPCSC had planned to incorporate the law soon.
Nip said that in devising the draft law, the nationwide law – as well as Hong Kong’s constitutional and legal systems – will be examined: “Then there will be discussions in the Legislative Council, and I believe there’ll be sufficient opportunities to take into account different views.”
“We will do it as soon as possible – but with regards to when it will be completed, for now we do not have a set schedule,” he said.
Nip said that Hong Kong laws generally do not have a retroactive effect and stressed that the law will be in accordance with local legal principles. He also said that other relevant laws will be studied to maintain consistency, but other factors will also be considered.
Last week, Hong Kong fans booed the Chinese national anthem again at a football match at the Hong Kong stadium. Some fans turned their backs when March of the Volunteers was played, as others displayed a banner that read “Hong Kong independence” at the 40,000-seat stadium.