Zhang Xiaoming, Beijing’s top representative in Hong Kong, is not the first political figure to recite lyrics of the classic Canto-pop song Below the Lion Rock to help him make a point. Zhang ended a speech to 40 pro-establishment lawmakers yesterday – at their first meeting following the rejection of the government’s political reform proposal last week – by citing the lyrics to call for differences to be put aside for the pursuit of ideals. Only eight pro-establishment lawmakers voted for the proposal after a botched walkout amid apparent splits in the camp highlighted by leaked WhatsApp messages of the camp’s communications. “Help each other on the same boat below the Lion Rock, let go of our differences and seek common grounds” and “Set aside our discord, pursue our goals together”, were part of Zhang’s recital. The same lines were recited by then premier Zhu Rongji in 2002 during a speech he made at Hong Kong’s Government House, calling for solidarity among different sectors. In March the same year, then-financial secretary Antony Leung Kam-chung used the lyrics to conclude his maiden budget speech, and later sang the song at a discussion with university students to rousing applause. WATCH: Roman Tam sings Below the Lion Rock Even those from the other end of the political spectrum – protesters during last year’s Occupy demonstrations – sang the song in their rally to evoke the so-called “Hong Kong spirit”. Below the Lion Rock was written in 1979 by composer Joseph Koo Ka-fai and its lyrics penned by the late writer James Wong Jim. It was sung by late Canto-pop king Roman Tam, known by his stage name Lo Man. The song was produced as the theme song for an eponymous television series produced by RTHK. The drama began in 1973 and told the stories of how people from different walks of life, especially the working class, overcame the challenges of a changing Hong Kong. New episodes were produced up to 2006. The song became a popular hit, and went platinum in Hong Kong in 1980 with sales of more than 30,000 records. But back then Below the Lion Rock was less highly regarded than another song by Tam, who was renowned for his singing style in works with rich traditional Chinese elements. Tam’s song “Dedicated To You” earned him a top 10 Chinese song award hosted by RTHK in 1979. It would take years for Below the Lion Rock to attain its status today – regarded as a symbol of Hongkongers’ fortitude, and to some, a representation of the city, partly thanks to the recitals by the prominent officials. The part of “helping each other in the same boat” was implanted into the chorus of a 2013 song Sail On which was produced for the government’s “Hong Kong: Our Home” campaign. The new song, branded by the government as a modern take on Below the Lion Rock , however, has yet to gain the same popularity as the old classic.