No excuse for insulting national anthem
Opposition parties and their supporters are alarmed by the upcoming National Anthem Bill the special administrative region government will submit to the Legislative Council later this month.
Their complaints, though mostly technical, are politically motivated and thinly veiled attempts to get away with insulting the national anthem on technicalities such as the period of limitation to prosecute. Some opposition figures also claimed the draft National Anthem Bill has failed to clearly define acts of “insulting the national anthem”. They also claimed it may allow the Department of Justice to prosecute certain individuals willfully — even though the draft bill has yet to be submitted to LegCo.
Many members of the public immediately dismissed such comments as lame excuses — because they really are.
Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs Patrick Nip Tak-kuen said in his opening speech at the press briefing on Wednesday: “The legislative principle of the National Anthem Bill is to fully reflect the purpose and intent of the National Anthem Law, which is to preserve the dignity of the national anthem and promote respect for it and at the same time to give due regard to the common law system practiced in Hong Kong, as well as the actual circumstances in Hong Kong.”
With this in mind people only need to stand at solemn attention when the National Anthem of the People’s Republic of China is played ceremoniously under public eye. The draft bill does contain the phrase “publicly insulting the national anthem”. Is such behavior truly hard to tell, as some opposition lawmakers have suggested?
When used as a verb, insult is always an intentional act. Can anyone accept that some lawmakers may not be able to tell an act of insulting the national anthem when they see it? Or are we supposed to believe it is possible to “respect” the national anthem hatefully? The fact is some opposition politicians habitually assume they can take the public for fools over judicial matters and get away with it. For example, some of them accused the government of using the national anthem legislation as a way to disqualify opposition members of LegCo — as if they should be excused for insulting the national anthem when they feel like it. One may wonder if they are willing and prepared to demonstrate such a scenario one of these days.
As for complaints over the proposed period of limitation to prosecute someone for publicly insulting the national anthem, which is set at two years in the draft National Anthem Bill, let’s just say it matters the most to those who wish to publicly insult the national anthem one way or another without consequences. It is much easier to refrain from committing such acts than to find an excuse which works.