25 March 2019
HKNP's Andy Chan (center) and veteran opposition politician Albert Ho attend  RTHK's program City Forum at Victoria Park on Sunday. Photo: HKEJ
HKNP's Andy Chan (center) and veteran opposition politician Albert Ho attend RTHK's program City Forum at Victoria Park on Sunday. Photo: HKEJ

HKNP leader slams govt clampdown, accuses police of tailing him

Andy Chan Ho-tin, co-founder and convenor of the Hong Kong National Party (HKNP), slammed the government for allegedly clamping down on the pro-independence group on flimsy grounds, and warned that his party might not be the only one to be banned.

Chan on Sunday told City Forum, an RTHK program held at Victoria Park, that most of the HKNP statements and actions that the police are using as evidence against the group are normally said and done by any political group, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reports.

The 27-year-old activist, who has been advocating Hong Kong independence since the HKNP was founded in 2016, said the government has de facto implemented Article 23 of the Basic Law against treason, secession, sedition and subversion.

He said his efforts to safeguard Hong Kong’s interests are now being used as proof that he is undermining national security.

The government’s plan to ban his party is a violation of human rights, The Standard quoted Chan as saying.

There is only law but no rule of law in Hong Kong, he said, judging by the authorities’ efforts to ban his party on the basis of his remarks.

The Secretary for Security John Lee Ka-chiu told media last Tuesday that he is giving the HKNP 21 days to submit a written defense as to why the government should not order its ban.

Responding to Chan’s allegations at the RTHK forum, pro-establishment lawmaker Ma Fung-kwok said he believes the police have sufficient reason to enforce a ban on the HKNP, based on the party’s agenda and actions.

He said the police acted prudently, spending two years collecting evidence before making the move.

While noting that the HKNP had been given the chance to defend itself and Chan himself could file an appeal, Ma criticized those who are hiding behind a shield of human rights and blaming the definition of national security for being too vague.

The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights does not cover national security, which is clearly defined in Article 23 of the Basic Law, Ma said.

In response to Ma’s comments, veteran opposition politician and former lawmaker Albert Ho Chun-yan said the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the Hong Kong Bill of Rights Ordinance are included in the Basic Law.

Ho is the chairman of the Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements in China.

He said that based on international standards, no one should be incriminated by their words.

One can be considered a threat to national security only when the threat is imminent and application of force is involved, Ho said.

Otherwise, abusing power to deprive Hongkongers of their basic rights is tantamount to creating white terror, he added.

Chan expressed concern that the HKNP may not be the only group being targeted by the government, noting that Ho’s alliance and the Democratic Party may also see their operations prohibited if they continue to oppose Beijing, including its move to incorporate “Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era” into the Chinese constitution.

Meanwhile, Chan revealed that he has been subjected to various forms of harassment over past two weeks, including plainclothesmen and members of the media tailing him or putting him under surveillance, his phone receiving incessant calls for a number of times, the door of his residence being banged and his picture being taken by unidentified people.

Two plainclothes police officers were found standing on the sidelines of the forum until Chan left. When asked by media representatives, the officers denied tailing the HKNP leader, and said they were just hanging around to observe the occasion and maintain order.

They refused to show their badges, reasoning that they were not exercising police power at the time.

A police spokesman later explained to media that the two officers were sent there to maintain public order, prevent crime from happening and protect public safety.

Separately, Maria Tam Wai-chu, vice-chair of the Hong Kong Basic Law Committee under the National People’s Congress Standing Committee, told a radio program on Sunday that it is not good governance if the government fails to take preemptive action and waits until the problem is already spreading, referring to the HKNP case.

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