Why is it controversial to teach our schoolchildren how to sing the national anthem?
Those who oppose it have called it “brainwashing” and infringing the city’s autonomy. Well, that’s only true if we already assume Hong Kong is an independent political entity to which the anthem is foreign. If you take that position, there is nothing more to argue.
But back in reality, a national anthem law was inevitable once the National People’s Congress Standing Committee in November inserted it into the Basic Law, thus requiring the local administration to draft legislation criminalising any abuse of the song.
Many have made fun of the idea, including many opposition lawmakers. What if you have no musical sense and sing the anthem out of tune, or a bad memory and forget the lyrics? Would that land you in jail?
No, we are talking about offensive and deliberate actions such as those of Joshua Wong Chi-fung and Agnes Chow Ting, leaders of localist party Demosisto,who crossed their arms and turned their backs in protest when the anthem was played. And Chow complained she was barred from running in Sunday’s Legislative Council by-election!
Our children should be taught to respect the anthem of their country. They need it especially now when anti-China activists such as Wong and Chow are being idolised by young localist fantasts, secessionists and foreign busybodies; and when local soccer hooligans have made it a sport to boo the Chinese anthem.
But, it’s not just that; children should be taught to respect the national anthems of other countries. That’s good manners which in turn reflect well on your character. It’s also called self-respect – not to behave badly in public. Showing sensitivity and respect may also save you from offending other people in their own countries.
Still, there is room for debate whether it should be made mandatory by law to educate primary and secondary school pupils on the importance of the anthem, or via official guidelines issued by the Education Bureau.
The bureau has usually issued guidelines for schools on what to teach rather than requiring the government to legislate. This has worked so far and should continue. Many local schools, in fact, have already played the national anthem at the start of school and taught pupils how to sing it.
This would not be hard to implement.