November 16, 2023
HONG KONG – Lawmakers of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region on Wednesday approved a bill that would ban any act of insulting the regional flag and regional emblem of the SAR publicly and intentionally, as well as presenting guidelines for using and displaying the two symbols in school education.
The amended Regional Flag and Regional Emblem Ordinance is aligned with the revised National Flag and National Emblem Ordinance in terms of better preserving the dignity of and enhancing the protection of the regional flag and regional emblem, the Hong Kong SAR government said.
The bill also addresses school education about the regional flag and emblem, saying the city’s secretary for education must give directions on the two regional symbols’ significance, regulations on their of display, and their use in primary and secondary schools
The Regional Flag and Regional Emblem (Amendment) Bill 2023 was gazetted on July 7, and sent to the Legislative Council on July 12 for first and second readings. Wednesday’s vote to approve the third reading must be signed by Chief Executive John Lee Ka-chiu and then gazetted before becoming law.
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The amendment bill would make it an offense for anyone who publicly and intentionally desecrates the regional flag and regional emblem or their images, including burning, mutilating, scrawling on and defiling, or to publish related contents. Offenders will face a penalty of up to a Level 5 fine and five years’ imprisonment.
The bill lists inappropriate uses of the regional flag and emblem, including displaying the two symbols upside down and deliberately discarding them. Event organizers have the responsibility to recover or dispose of the regional flags or emblems used on the site of the event in the manner stipulated by the Hong Kong chief executive.
The bill also addresses school education about the regional flag and emblem, saying the city’s secretary for education must give directions on the two regional symbols’ significance, regulations on their of display, and their use in primary and secondary schools.
Speaking before the bill’s third reading on Wednesday, Erick Tsang Kwok-wai, secretary for constitutional and mainland affairs, said the government will broadcast audiotapes and videos through radio and television to help people learn the proper use of the two regional symbols.
Tsang said he hopes Hong Kong residents can spontaneously respect and cherish the regional flag and regional emblem.
He emphasized that in determining whether behavior violates the law, law enforcement agencies would make a comprehensive consideration based on the actual circumstances of each case and the evidence.
The court will also make a fair and just judgement according to the law, he added.