Brainwash denied over longer TV anthem

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 19 May, 2005, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 19 May, 2005, 12:00am

New video series made to promote social harmony, says committee chief

A government committee to promote patriotism yesterday denied a new series of TV broadcasts on the national anthem were designed to brainwash the public to become more patriotic.

The denial came as legislators passed a motion calling for civic education to be stepped up.

Daniel Heung Cheuk-kei, chairman of the Committee on the Promotion of Civic Education, said an accompanying video series had been made to improve social harmony after political dissent had surfaced during the past year.

In the new series of the controversial Our Home, Our Country video to be broadcast from next Monday before each newscast on Chinese terrestrial channels, celebrities, including Jackie Chan, will introduce the history of the national anthem.

The original 45-second video footage, which included the national anthem, will be extended to a minute. Mr Heung said the move was designed to improve the poor level of public knowledge about China.

Since the original video was conceived last October, critics have said it was part of a brainwashing campaign to introduce mainland-style patriotism into Hong Kong.

Mr Heung dismissed the allegation as groundless. 'Many people mentioned this in the past and I will say this once again - it has nothing to do with brainwashing. We simply want people to know they are Chinese.'

But he admitted political considerations were taken into account when designing an accompanying series of public announcements, which encourage social harmony.

'Since the beginning of this year we felt there had been a lot of friction and there were some rather disturbing noises in society ... These included political dissent and economic friction,' Mr Heung said.

The series will run for two months before being replaced by a new TV campaign to promote patriotism which will concentrate on mainland history, geography and national achievements.

The legislature yesterday unanimously passed a motion, moved by Democratic Alliance for Betterment of Hong Kong chairman Ma Lik, who called on the government to require the national flag to be displayed on all major official buildings and schools.

While supporting the motion, Democrat Cheung Man-kwong said people could not be spoon-fed patriotism, which he said should also include the love of democracy. 'Loving the country does not mean loving the Communist Party.'

Secretary for Home Affairs Patrick Ho Chi-ping said patriotism could not be imposed by legislation, but promised to step up its promotion.