Arise, ye who don’t want to be fined HK$50,000

Hong Kong is an experiment in what happens when a modern pluralist society is taken over by a Leninist-Confucian dictatorship. The results so far range from injustice to idiocy to irony – and now along comes the imposition of a Mainland law on the national anthem.

It seems Beijing is insisting that the local legislation mimic the Mainland statute by including political blather about enhancing the ‘sense of nation’ in the preamble, and by requiring schools to teach the anthem without imposing a penalty for non-compliance. This degrades common-law principles – though in the grand scheme of creeping totalitarianism, it’s no biggie.

Then there are the practicalities of proscribing ‘disrespect’ for the tune by law, such as the notorious sitting-and-eating-noodles-when-the-anthem-is-on-TV dilemma. Officials seem to suggest it depends on intent, or whether you have malice and evil lurking within your heart: if you don’t – no problem. Fortunately, the police have been issued with malice-and-evil-detection heart probes.

Not least is freedom of expression. Traditionally in Hong Kong, you can rewrite the words to any damn tune you feel like. Yet the government says that anyone who ‘publicly and wilfully alters’ the lyrics or score of March of the Volunteers could get a HK$50,000 fine and three years in prison. (By comparison, careless driving gets you HK$5,000/six months.)

So if you play the tune in a 3:4 time signature, thus turning it into a waltz (and arguably vastly improving it as a piece of music), you go to prison? For changing ‘Arise, ye who refuse to be slaves!’ into ‘Arise, ye who refuse to be mice!’ you get a HK$50,000 fine? What if you completely change the tune and change the lyrics to such an extent that only the word ‘Arise’ remains, as with a Peter Tosh work?

David Webb notes that the lyrics have already been altered – another version called for ‘liberty and true democracy’. Expect an extra HK$50,000 and 10 years in a re-education camp for singing this one.

This new law is supposed to convince the undecideds and reluctant to become devout patriots. More likely, it will be a juicy invitation to Hong Kong’s creative and subversive hordes to mutilate, mash-up and mock March of the Volunteers without mercy. Already, wicked compulsive thoughts are flooding into my mind about putting a choral rendition of the tune through a pitch and tempo converter to make it sound like chipmunks.

Another dazzling Communist Party ‘soft power’ victory.


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11 Responses to Arise, ye who don’t want to be fined HK$50,000

  1. “Arise” is also the opening word of “The Internationale” – surely no Communist Party can object to anyone singing that?

  2. old git says:

    Periodically, one is afflicted by sciatica, and rising to one’s feet can be exceedingly painful.

  3. Very funny read. Thanks.

    You are a prisoner of your own clichés.

    What does issued issued mean mean?

    Calm down dear!

  4. Not A Political Decision says:

    Well now SCMP even close comments on soccer matches (humiliations) involving china

  5. property devloper says:

    How about playing our anthem on a doubledecker on a sharp bend on Taipo Road?

  6. @pd – “our” anthem?

  7. Sojourner says:

    Mae hen wlad fy nhadau yn annwyl i mi,
    Gwlad beirdd a chantorion, enwogion o fri;
    Ei gwrol ryfelwyr, gwladgarwyr tra mâd,
    Tros ryddid gollasant eu gwaed.


    @ Not A Political Decision

    @ Not a Political Decision ……… Gwlad, Gwlad, pleidiol wyf i’m gwlad,
    Tra môr yn fur i’r bur hoff bau,
    O bydded i’r heniaith barhau.

    Hen Gymru fynyddig, paradwys y bardd;
    Pob dyffryn, pob clogwyn, i’m golwg sydd hardd
    Trwy deimlad gwladgarol, mor swynol yw si
    Ei nentydd, afonydd, i fi.

  8. Joe Blow says:

    In the old days when people still read magazines, anyone who felt inclined to send a letter to the editor was advised that rhyming letters or poetry were not really appreciated.

    I don’t care how effing old you are: stop it !!

  9. Stanley Lieber says:

    @Joe Blow

    That’s funny.

  10. hank morgan says:


    Wasn’t that to keep the typesetters from going crazy?

    Even further back, there were journals for that.

    However no complaints, only a guest here with a scroll wheel on mouse.

  11. LRE says:

    There’s a zesty tang of irony to the doublethink of making participation in a song called “March of the Volunteers” compulsory. Reckon Orwell would have had a doubleplus bellyfeel chuckle over it.

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