Date
19 October 2018
The police's Organized Crime and Triad Bureau is said to be entrusted with enforcement of the ban on the operations of the pro-independence Hong Kong National Party. Photo: AFP
The police's Organized Crime and Triad Bureau is said to be entrusted with enforcement of the ban on the operations of the pro-independence Hong Kong National Party. Photo: AFP

Police’s OCTB unit seen tasked with enforcing HKNP ban

As the Security Bureau’s ban on the Hong Kong National Party (HKNP) was gazetted on Monday and came into immediate effect, it is believed that the police’s Organized Crime and Triad Bureau (OCTB) will be tasked with enforcing the ban.

The HKNP ban marks the first time the government has invoked the Societies Ordinance to outlaw a local political group since the city’s return to Chinese sovereignty in 1997.

Over the years, the OCTB has remained at the forefront of fighting triads and gang crime in Hong Kong, and was rarely involved in politics. Given that, the bureau is still studying how to get started with this new “special task”.

Meanwhile, police sources say the entrustment of the task to OCTB is a reflection of the gravity of the issue, and indicates that law enforcement is taking the ban very seriously.

While the OCTB is going to coordinate and supervise all efforts made by other departments in the police at enforcing the ban, it will also stay closely in touch with the Department of Justice on the matter.

Nevertheless, police sources also admitted that during a recent internal briefing session, OCTB officers were reminded that handling the HKNP is a totally different game from busting gangsters.

In other words, they must bear in mind that whenever they are mounting operations, they should always remain gentle.

The police have already ordered a social media operator to shut down the accounts of the HKNP.

Despite the fact that as of last night, the HKNP’s home page on Facebook was still running as usual, it is just a matter of time before the social media platform will shut down the party’s account, given that the party has been outlawed, Democratic Party lawmaker and deputy chairman of Legislative Council panel on security James To Kun-sun has said. 

However, the lawmaker added that he believes the personal Facebook account of Andy Chan Ho-tin, convener of the HKNP, is likely to remain unaffected.

As to whether or not Chan’s written or spoken words that are already circulating on the Internet in relation to Hong Kong independence, such as the footage showing him delivering a speech recently at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club (FCC), also fall within the jurisdiction of the ban and thus need to be removed, police sources say the answer is negative.

It is because, the sources explained, the ban on the HKNP gazetted on Monday has no retrospective effect, therefore it doesn’t apply to the party’s activities concerned that were put on the Internet before Sept. 24.

Hence, the sources added, there is no need for netizens to rush to delete whatever comments or remarks they have posted on Chan’s social media account before the official ban was announced on Monday.

This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on Sept 26

Translation by Alan Lee 

[Chinese version 中文版]

– Contact us at [email protected]

JC/RC

Columnist of Hong Kong Economic Journal.

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