28 October 2016
Hong Kong is in urgent need of new national security legislation, says Maria Tam. Photo: Xinhua
Hong Kong is in urgent need of new national security legislation, says Maria Tam. Photo: Xinhua

Maria Tam: HK should enact Article 23 as soon as possible

Hong Kong must enact legislation under Article 23 of the Basic Law as soon as possible in order to safeguard national security interests and deter mischief makers, said Maria Tam Wai-chu, a Hong Kong deputy to China’s National People’s Congress (NPC).

Article 23, which requires Hong Kong to implement laws against treason, secession and subversion, should be enacted quickly in view of recent events in the city, Tam told reporters in Beijing on Wednesday.

Speaking at a luncheon gathering ahead of China’s parliament session, Tam said legislation of Article 23 can provide Hong Kong government more law-enforcement and judicial power to deal with incidents that could potentially be more serious than the Feb. 8 Mong Kok clashes.

The NPC, China’s rubber-stamp parliament, will begin an annual meeting on March 5.

Article 23 can offer Hong Kong more protection and also help the central government cope better with the special administrative region where things could get more chaotic in the future, Tam said, according to the Hong Kong Economic Journal.

Last month’s violence in Mong Kok stemmed from a combination of multiple factors, the NPC deputy said, adding that one cannot cure the “composite disease” with just one prescription.

Housing issue remains the biggest concern of young people in Hong Kong, she said, urging the government to address the issue.

In other comments, Tam lashed out at calls made by localist group Hong Kong Indigenous that Hongkongers should be allowed to decide their own fate after 2047, when a Sino-British treaty related to the city’s handover would expire. 

Hongkongers must understand that the Basic law and the “one country, two systems” principle are bottom lines that Beijing would not allow anyone to cross, Tam said.

On the controversy surrounding missing bookseller Lee Bo, Tam stressed that she believes that Lee returned to the mainland voluntarily, something that he admitted in media interviews.

Asked if she would support a fresh term for Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying, Tam did not give a straight answer.

But she said that the current system where Hong Kong has to elect a new leader every five years is “damaging”. She said she believes that extending the term to 10 years would be much more helpful for the person in the top job to implement policies that will benefit Hong Kong.

When a reporter suggested that Leung’s low popularity might be due to his poor social communication, Tam said one cannot guarantee that there won’t be more demonstrations even if Leung is replaced by someone else.

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