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Source: Hong Kong Information Services

The Government today said the drafting of the National Anthem Bill had undergone stringent procedures during which views from various sectors were gauged and adopted, adding that it will introduce the bill to the Legislative Council for resuming the second reading debate at an appropriate time.

In a statement responding to media enquiries, it reiterated that the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government has the constitutional responsibility to implement the National Anthem Law locally.

In implementing the National Anthem Law by local legislation, the Government has given full consideration to Hong Kong’s common law system and actual circumstances.

The main spirit of the National Anthem Bill is “respect”, which bears absolutely no relation to “restricting freedom of speech” as claimed by certain members of the community and is definitely not a so-called “evil law”.

The statement also noted the Standing Committee of the 12th National People’s Congress adopted the decision to add the National Anthem Law to Annex III to the Basic Law on November 4, 2017.

In accordance with Article 18 of the Basic Law, the national laws listed in Annex III to the Basic Law shall be applied locally by way of promulgation or legislation by the Hong Kong SAR. It is thus the constitutional responsibility of the Hong Kong SAR Government to implement the National Anthem Law locally.

Having regard to Hong Kong’s common law system and the actual circumstances in Hong Kong, the SAR Government decided to implement the National Anthem Law in Hong Kong by local legislation. This approach fully reflects the spirit of “one country, two systems”.

The Government said the legislative principle of the National Anthem Bill is clear, i.e. to fully reflect the legislative purpose and intent of the National Anthem Law, which is to preserve the dignity of the national anthem so that members of the community will respect the national anthem, whilst taking into account Hong Kong’s common law system and actual circumstances.

During the drafting of the bill, the Government consulted the LegCo Panel on Constitutional Affairs and attended two special panel meetings lasting for a total of 15 hours, during which it listened to the views from 190 members of the public and representatives of various organisations.

The Government also met different political parties, professional groups, representatives from the legal sector and academia to listen to and adopt their views.

The bill was introduced to LegCo last January for the first and second reading.

The relevant Bills Committee has subsequently convened 17 meetings and used over 50 hours to scrutinise the bill in a clause-by-clause manner. Members of the public were invited to express their views at one of these meetings.

In the process, the Government listened attentively to the views of members of the Bills Committee and the public.

MIL OSI Asia Pacific News