AL Plenary | Chan: Anthem law does not challenge freedom of the press

Sonia Chan pictured yesterday at the AL (center)

The region’s national anthem law was passed by the Legislative Assembly (AL), with Secretary for Administration and Justice Sonia Chan claiming that the law will not pose a threat to the freedom of the press.

The anthem law proposes that the SAR government can require Macau’s media to publish directed reports in relation to the law itself.

“[The accusation] whereby we force the media to conduct propaganda of the anthem law is incorrect,” said Chan, further explaining that “the bill means the government has the obligation [to work with the media to produce specific information]. It does not conflict with the freedom of the press.”

According to Chan, “the anthem law is not a censorship on media, it is just a promotion of a law.” She said there will be no punishment against the media if the media does not cooperate with the government.  “No punishment is written in the law concerning that.”

The law also proposes locations where the national anthem should or not be used and states that insulting the national anthem will be considered a crime.

Moreover, primary and secondary education levels should include education on the national anthem in their curriculums.

According to the law, individuals who show disrespect towards the national anthem will be fined between MOP2,000 and MOP10,000.

However, lawmaker Ip Sio Ka remains displeased with the punishment, deeming it to be too light.

“There should be heavier punishments. If there are only fines, I don’t think they show too much respect [for China],” said Ip.

Mak Soi Kun, who also supports the law, remarked “it [the anthem law] is necessary; it protects the country’s dignity. The handover is about to be 20 years old, but have Macau people’s hearts been “handed over”? Until now, Macau people’s hearts have not realized the importance of the anthem.”

According to Chan, education and propaganda are the main purposes behind the law, and “only those who behave erroneously will be punished.”

Chan said that the government will not consider imposing heavier penalties.

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