A Hong Kong lawmaker has called for the “decolonization” of Hong Kong’s laws after throngs of people queued on the city’s streets to pay tribute to the UK’s Queen Elizabeth II.
Over the last week and a half, more than 12,000 people braved intense heat and rain to enter the British Consulate-General in Hong Kong to sign books of condolence for the late Queen, while more left flowers and messages outside the building to thank the UK’s longest reigning monarch and commemorate her legacy.
But such open declarations of admiration for the late monarch are viewed by many as an embarrassment to Beijing and its loyalists, who have increasingly been trying to push the narrative that Hong Kong was never a British colony.
Moreover, many have used the Queen’s passing as an opportunity to criticize the city’s shrinking freedoms after Hong Kong was returned to Chinese rule in 1997 and express support for the pro-democracy movement — which has mostly been silenced after the implementation of the controversial national security law — by placing protest messages on the walls of the diplomatic mission.
On Monday — the final day for mourners to sign the condolence books as well as the day of the state funeral for the Queen in the UK — some even reportedly sang “Glory to Hong Kong” outside the consulate-general while a 43-year-old played the protest song on a harmonica.
The man was arrested on suspicion of sedition for playing the song, which was popular during the 2019 and 2020 protests. It has since been banned in schools.
While it has not been declared illegal, the fact that the song contains lyrics including “Liberate Hong Kong, revolution of our times” has led to it being deemed separatist and subversive by authorities.
In a Facebook post on Tuesday, Election Committee legislator Maggie Chan pointed out that the city’s laws still contain phrases that are relics of its colonial past.
“The Queen’s state funeral has been held in the UK, but colonial terms such as ‘Assaults on the Queen’ still remain in Hong Kong’s local laws,” she exclaimed.
“The Hong Kong government has to give an explanation!! I have written to the Legislative Council’s Panel on Administration of Justice and Legal Services to request for an explanation!”
The terms “Queen” and “Her Majesty” are indeed used in multiple sections of Hong Kong’s Crime Ordinance. For example, one part details “Assaults on the Queen”, while the list of treasonable offenses includes seeking to “depose Her Majesty from the style, honor and royal name of the Crown of the United Kingdom or of any other of Her Majesty’s dominions”.
Chan, who is a solicitor by training as well as Hong Kong deputy to the National People’s Congress, called for authorities to delete such colonial wordings as soon as possible and urged the government to come up with a timeline and roadmap to “decolonize” Hong Kong laws.
As a former British colony from 1841 to 1941, and from 1945 to 1997, there are many colonial relics and symbols throughout the city, which the pro-Beijing camp has long called to be removed as authorities push for more patriotic education.
For example, there is a Queen Elizabeth Hospital and Prince of Wales Hospital, while an important collection of roads running from Shek Tong Tsui to Wan Chai include Queen’s Road West, Queen’s Road Central, Queensway and Queen’s Road East.