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Controversial national anthem law takes effect in Hong Kong

Controversial national anthem law takes effect in Hong Kong
Protesters hold flags in a shopping mall during a protest in Hong Kong on Friday.
Hong Kong, Jun 12 (IANS) | Publish Date: 6/12/2020 10:34:42 AM IST

The controversial law, which can bring up to three years in prison to those who insult China’s “March of Volunteers” national anthem, took effect in Hong Kong on Friday, after it was signed by the city’s Chief Executive Carrie Lam.

“I am pleased that the National Anthem Ordinance will be gazetted and come into effect tomorrow, signifying the fulfilment of the constitutional responsibility of the HKSAR and reflecting the spirit of ‘one country, two systems’,” CGTN quoted Lam as saying on Thursday after the signing.

“Like the national flag and the national emblem, the national anthem is the symbol and sign of the nation. As an inalienable part of China, the HKSAR is duty-bound to preserve the dignity of the national anthem through legislation,” she said.

Hoping that the public will respect the national anthem of their own volition, Lam said the promotion of the national anthem is of paramount importance to let the younger generation understand the history and spirit of the national anthem.

“The Education Bureau will update its learning and teaching resources and issue directions to schools through circulars to support schools in teaching students,” Lam said.

Hong Kong’s Legislative Council had passed the national anthem bill on June 4 with an overwhelming majority.

Sources quoted anonymously by public Hong Kong radio broadcasting RTHK explained that the former British colony police have been trained in how to apply it and that internal guidelines “suggest that the legislation would be used only against those who deliberately insult” the anthem, reports Efe news.

Those who do so risk not only imprisonment of up to three years, but also to fines of up to HK$50,000 ($6,451).

Opposition deputies, as well as thousands of protesters, have expressed their opposition to this new law, which they consider violates freedom of expression, as well as not considering it the proper way to get people to respect the Chinese national anthem.

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