A Hong Kong youth group has recruited 200 celebrities and elite figures for a patriotic music video, but netizens have ridiculed a scene showing an elderly woman rising from her wheelchair to sing the national anthem.
The Committee of Youth Activities in Hong Kong – a collection of nine pro-Beijing groups – released the three-minute video on Wednesday. The committee is led by Kenneth Fok, a national committee member of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference and grandson to pro-Beijing tycoon Henry Fok.
The video shows a list of public figures forming a “flash mob” at Golden Bauhinia Square, singing the national anthem – March of the Volunteers – during a national flag-raising ceremony.
Among the cast were film star Jackie Chan, businessman and “father of Lan Kwai Fong” Allan Zeman, Canto-pop singer Alan Tam, among others.
“Singing the national anthem in Chinese, I felt very very patriotic, I felt very very good,” Zeman said at the end of the video.
Former Hong Kong health minister Ko Wing-man, who also appeared in the video, said he was “very moved” and that the presentation style of the video was “refreshing.”
When the first notes of the anthem are played, the video also shows an elderly woman in a wheelchair propping herself up with a cane. According to the video’s credits, the woman is likely to be a member of a guerrilla group that fought the Japanese during WWII – as shown by the medal she and her companions wore in the scene.
Some Hong Kong netizens reacted to the moment with scepticism. “The national anthem can heal every sickness,” wrote one user on Facebook. Another wrote: “They are amplifying what the public’s fears concerning the national anthem law. It only makes people more afraid.”
The national anthem bill, which is currently being vetted in the legislature, includes a section that requires people to “stand solemnly and deport themselves with dignity” while the anthem is played. However, the government has said that there are no penalties attached to that section of the law.
In a Legislative Council meeting last month, lawmaker Fernando Cheung asked whether the law would be discriminatory towards people who could not stand due to their physical condition. Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs Patrick Nip replied at the time that the government understands that some people would be unable to stand, and no penalties would be enforced.
Under the proposed bill, deliberate alterations to the anthem and derogatory performances can be punished by a fine of up to HK$50,000 and three years behind bars.
The bills committee for the national anthem bill is meeting on Thursday and Saturday.
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