THE police will be given two years to charge anyone who disrespects the national anthem under a proposed ordinance, Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs Patrick Nip Takkuen (聶德權) said.
So people who ‘insult’ or misuse the anthem in public or on the internet could be prosecuted long after they are seen to have stepped out of line.
The Executive Council approved the bill on 8 January. The National People’s Congress Standing Committee (人大常委) had put the mainland national anthem law into the Basic Law Annex III in 2017.
It prohibits people from publicly and intentionally altering the lyrics or score of the March of the Volunteers (義勇軍進行曲), or playing or singing the anthem in a distorted or disrespectful way. Additionally, repeating an insult through publishing the gist of it is also prohibited.
All such offences – like those relating to the National Flag and National Emblem Ordinance – can lead to three years in prison or a fine of up to HK$50,000.
The bill provides for a prosecution time of 24 months after an alleged offence, or 12 months after a supposed offence is discovered by the Commissioner of Police, whichever is earlier.
Nip said the two-year provision struck a balance in law enforcement, as some cases need more time for investigation, such as those involving many offenders or unidentified ones on the internet.
(This article is published on Junior Standard on 17 January 2019)
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