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HK soccer association calls for enforcement of national anthem law

By He Shusi and Shadow Li in Hong Kong | China Daily | Updated: 2017-11-07 08:14

As Hong Kong prepares to launch its legislative process regarding the National Anthem Law, local political heavyweights, including the city's soccer association leader, stressed the importance of Hong Kong people showing respect for the anthem and the dignity of the nation.

They said the local legislation should be enacted as soon as possible and take into account the difference between the law on the Chinese mainland and Hong Kong's common law system.

Their remarks came after the country's top legislature, the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress, voted on Saturday to include the National Anthem Law in Annex III of the Basic Laws of the Hong Kong and Macao special administrative regions.

Although the Standing Committee has yet to specify any deadline for the legislation in Hong Kong, Pui Kwankay, deputy chairman of the Hong Kong Football Association, called for speed. Pui said on Monday that once the law is enacted, the association will consider setting up a blacklist to reject fans who boo the national anthem from future matches.

Meanwhile, the association will add security personnel and deploy more staff during matches to prevent fans from booing the anthem.

Though the association has no power to enforce the law, he said, the staff will take photos and videos of the booing fans and report them to police.

Some soccer fans in Hong Kong have booed the anthem during international matches, including twice in October when Hong Kong played Laos and Malaysia.

The soccer association has been fined more than HK$100,000 over fans' inappropriate behavior toward the anthem. The Asian Football Confederation sent the Hong Kong association a "stern warning" in late October, saying that further violations could lead to more serious punishments, including closed-door matches that no one can watch live.

Also on Monday, Secretary for Justice Rimsky Yuen Kwokkeung said the government will carefully consider public opinion during the legislative process. He said local legislation will strike a balance between the gist of the National Anthem Law - to safeguard the dignity of the national anthem - and Hong Kong's common law system, which is protected by the Basic Law, the SAR's fundamental governing document.

Stressing that protecting national dignity is simply common sense, Yuen said it's impossible to list every possible lawbreaking scenario.

Leung Chun-ying, former chief executive of Hong Kong and vice-chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, the country's top political advisory body, said desecration of national symbols in Hong Kong damaged the SAR's image and distressed compatriots on the mainland. He said those behaviors were incomprehensible and unacceptable.

Other local legislators also hoped the government would launch the legislative process quickly. Hong Kong's sole member of the NPC Standing Committee, Rita Fan Hsu Laitai, agreed that the law should be enacted as soon as possible, noting that opposition lawmakers have constantly resorted to filibustering in the legislature to derail the government's operations.

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