A mainland Chinese legal expert has urged Hong Kong to pass a shelved national security law in the aftermath of clashes between protesters and police in Mong Kok on the night of Feb. 8, Apple Daily reported Wednesday.
Rao Geping, a member of the Hong Kong Basic Law Committee of the National People’s Congress Standing Committee and a law professor at Peking University, said at a news conference in Beijing on Tuesday that Hong Kong has a long-overdue obligation to comply with Article 23 of the Basic Law, which requires the special administrative region to legislate provisions against treason, secession and subversion.
An attempt to enact the controversial legislation was scrapped in 2003 after a massive public backlash.
Rao said the incident in Mong Kok involved violence by protesters against law enforcement officials, and people should not blame it only on the government.
Even without the incident, he said, legislation of Article 23 is still a responsibility of the Hong Kong government.
He said the incident highlighted the importance of maintaining national security through the law.
Rao’s remarks came after the overseas edition of People’s Daily quoted Lau Siu-kai, a former chief adviser to the Hong Kong government and now vice chairman of the semi-official Chinese Association of Hong Kong and Macao Studies, as saying that legislating the provisions of Article 23 should be done as soon as possible.
Civic Party leader Alan Leong Kah-kit said the recent calls to legislate Article 23 have made him suspect that the incident in Mong Kok was engineered by some to create conditions for the law to be enacted.
Elsie Leung Oi-sie, deputy director of the Basic Law committee on which Rao sits, said Tuesday that the Hong Kong government would consider when to enact Article 23 based on its priorities.
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