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Procedures for ‘localising’ national anthem law complete in April-May

Blatant insults or disrespect to a national symbol (the national flag, national emblem and national anthem) are punishable by a fine or up to three years’ imprisonment.

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UPDATED: 22 Dec 2023, 5:50 am

Secretary for Administration and Justice Sonia Chan Hoi Fan has said that the government aims to complete its internal legislative procedures for amending the existing local law on the use and protection of the national anthem in April or May.

According to the Macau Post Daily, Chan made the remarks while speaking to reporters on Friday at the Macau Basic Law Commemorative Gallery in Zape on the sidelines of a ceremony marking the fifth anniversary of the establishment of the gallery located next to the Macau Forum complex.

Friday’s ceremony was among a string of the local government’s events marking the 25th anniversary of the promulgation of the Macau Basic Law, which was passed by the National People’s Congress (NPC) on March 31, 1993 and promulgated by the nation’s then president Jiang Zemin on the same day. The Macau Basic Law took effect on December 20, 1999 when the Macau Special Administrative Region (MSAR) was established.

The NPC Standing Committee in Beijing adopted decisions to apply the National Anthem Law both in Hong Kong and Macau, the nation’s two special administrative regions, in early November last year.

According to the decisions, the National Anthem Law, which took effect on October 1 last year, was to be included in Annex 3 of the Hong Kong Basic Law and Annex 3 of the Macau Basic Law. Both annexes list the national laws, resolutions and regulations to be applied in the two regions.

According to the basic laws of Hong Kong and Macau, national laws shall not be applied in the two autonomous regions, except for those listed in Annex 3 of their respective basic laws.

Speaking to reporters on Friday, Chan said that the local government needed to draft a bill to amend the existing local law on the use and protection of the national flag, national emblem and national anthem which had taken effect on the day of the MSAR Establishment Day on December 20, 1999, for the National Anthem Law to be implemented in Macau.

The government has said that it will draft the related local legislation in strict compliance with the spirit and legislative intent of the National Anthem Law, as well as by taking into account the situation in Macau, in order to ensure the effective implementation and correct application of the National Anthem Law in Macau.

Local Law No. 5/1999, which regulates the use and protection of national symbols in Macau, states that the nation’s symbols – the national flag, national emblem and national anthem – are to be respected and protected.

According to Article 9 (1) of the law, blatant insults or disrespect to a national symbol (the national flag, national emblem and national anthem) are punishable by a fine or up to three years’ imprisonment.

According to Article 9 (2.2), the act of maliciously not following the score or modifying the lyrics when playing the national anthem constitutes disrespect to the national anthem.

Chan said on Friday that the government’s proposed amendments to the local law on national symbols would include stipulating the etiquette that should be followed when the national anthem is played, and the events when the national anthem is to be played.

Chan also said that the government “does not propose major changes” to the current penalties that national anthem offenders face, as stipulated in the existing local law on national symbols.

UPDATED: 22 Dec 2023, 5:50 am

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