Despite widespread criticism over the new security law proposed by China, Carrie Lam, Hong Kong’s chief executive said that the law will not threaten the civil rights of the semi-autonomous territory. “Hong Kong needs this piece of legislation for the bigger benefit of the great majority of Hong Kong people,” she said.
A similar sentiment was echoed by Former Chief Executive of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) Tung Chee-hwa, who stated that the national security legislation only targets heavy crimes and illegal activities, therefore most Hong Kong people don’t have to fear it.
The draft legislation is set to outlaw the acts of secession, subversion and terrorism and provides for a jail term of 3 years. The bill is expected to be passed on May 28 which will authorise the National People`s Congress (NPC) Standing Committee to draft the law and impose it on Hong Kong, bypassing the city’s legislature.
The draft law has evoked large scale protest in Hong Kong as it is seen as an attack on the semi-autonomous status of the city. Tung has rubbished these claims as baseless and misleading. The rumours only intend to invoke panic and fear, he said.
He added that important principles of establishing and improving the legal system and enforcement mechanisms for the HKSAR are clearly stated in the draft decision, including upholding “One Country, Two Systems” and safeguarding the legal rights of Hong Kong residents.
He reiterated that the law will not affect the freedom of speech and press, and other freedoms guaranteed by the Basic Law.
Basic Law is Hong Kong’s mini-constitution that protect rights like the freedom of speech and the freedom of assembly, which don’t exist in mainland China. It also sets out a structure of governance in the city.
Citing the civil disturbances last year in the city, Tung observed that some anti-China radicals colluded with the anti-China forces from the west to “contain China’s peaceful rise.” “We can no longer tolerate how foreign forces have conspired with radicals in Hong Kong to put at risk China’s sovereignty, its authority and the legitimacy of the Hong Kong Basic Law. Hong Kong has a constitutional duty to safeguard national security,” Tung said.
According to the Tung, Hong Kong has become a “weak link” in the national security benefiting hostile foreign powers and thus the new law will be detrimental to such activities. “Hong Kong people are fed up with endless violence and illegal activities, and the legislation is to ensure the city’s peaceful way of life,” he said.
The Security Bureau of the HKSAR government and the disciplinary forces have also lent full support to the national security legislation. “I fully support the NPC’s draft decision on establishing and improving the legal system and enforcement mechanisms for the HKSAR to safeguard national security which allows Hong Kong to be back on track, ensuring its long-term prosperity and stability,” said John Lee, secretary for security of the HKSAR government.
He added that there has been a rise in terror activities in Hong Kong such as defending “Hong Kong independence”. Commissioner of Police Tang Ping-keung has maintained that such a law will help fight the forces supporting “Hong Kong independence” and restore social order.