Hong Kong government decided to delay another controversial bill – the national anthem bill in the Legislative Council, after Chief Executive Carrie Lam’s administration shelved the hated extradition bill amendment.
The government decided on Wednesday not to resume the second reading of the national anthem bill on July 10, the scheduled date. That means the bill can only be considered in October, when a new legislative year starts.
President of the LegCo Andrew Leung Kwan-yuen said there were other economic and social issues for councilors to handle first and they should leave the political issue aside.
Pro-government lawmaker Martin Liao Cheung-kong said he did not hear any opposition over Leung’s suggestion while Starry Lee Wai-king, chairperson of the largest pro-establishment party, the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong agreed, saying there was no need to rush the second reading of the national anthem bill before summer.
Lee said Hong Kong had a constitutional duty to enact the law but the legislature and society should stop and think what to do next given the polarized social situation.
Claudia Mo Man-ching, convenor of the pan-democrat camp, welcomed the suggestion, saying the government and the pro-establishment camp were using every method to ease anger among the general public.
The national anthem bill has been proposed to preserve the dignity of the “March of the Volunteers”, the national anthem of China. The law took effect on the mainland on October 1, 2017.
According to the bill, offenders found guilty of misusing or insulting “March of the Volunteers” face a fine of up to HK$50,000 (US$6,399) and up to three years in prison.
Meanwhile, another controversial discussion over funding for a feasibility study for the Lantau Tomorrow Vision plan has also been pushed back – to the end of the Finance Committee’s agenda on Friday. Committee chairman Chan Kin-por believed that the debate could not be finished in the current legislative year.
Lam had been pushing hard on the Lantau Tomorrow Vision reclamation plan, which could cost the city around HK$624 billion to build a 1,700-hectare cluster of artificial islands around Lantau Island. But the proposal drew criticism and opposition from a majority of Hong Kong people.
The Lam administration has been hit with a governance crisis after two massive rallies in two weeks, which three million citizens on to the street clamoring for her to step down.
Poll on Lam
Given this, Our Hong Kong Foundation – a think tank backed by former chief executive Tung Chee-hwa – has launched a poll on the Internet asking if Hong Kong people support Lam or not.
A Facebook page named “Think Hong Kong”, which is managed by Our Hong Kong Foundation, launched the poll on Tuesday. They said Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor had apologized sincerely to Hong Kong people over the furor caused by the extradition law amendment, “Do you support her to continue her governance in the next three years?”
Citizens have shared the link on social media and via WhatsApp groups since Wednesday morning, calling on friends to cast a vote.
In 24 hours, some 166,200 people voted. The results showed that 76% voters said they did not support Lam to govern the city over the next three years, while 24% backed her.
Meanwhile, Albert Chen Hung-yee, a pro-government professor at the University of Hong Kong’s Faculty of Law and a member of the Basic Law Committee has written a commentary “How the Proposed Law on Hong Kong-Mainland China Rendition was Aborted”. It said Lam’s administration generated “a perfect storm” that was completely unnecessary and avoidable and that she was practicing ‘soft authoritarianism’ in a semi-democratic system.
“This legislative proposal has not only led to the largest protests in the history of postcolonial Hong Kong but has also brought about one of the greatest crises of governance in post-1997 Hong Kong.”