We had news last month that Beijing had asked Hong Kong’s leader Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor to submit a report on the ban on the Hong Kong National Party (HKNP), with the administration told to lay out in detail the action taken against the pro-independence party in accordance with the law.
Beijing’s high-profile move has prompted an outcry among opposition groups, with some lawmakers describing the demand for a report as “unprecedented interference” in Hong Kong internal affairs, but the stark reality is that, given the “new constitutional order” these days, most people in Hong Kong are not too surprised at the turn of events.
Lam has returned from Beijing after attending the opening ceremony of the National People’s Congress, and the government is now said to have started putting together the report.
The report is expected to lay out legal grounds and facts relating to the banning of the HKNP. According to sources, officials may be able to finish compiling the report within a few days.
Lam, meanwhile, has said earlier that she is inclined to make the report public, so as to allay public concerns as to the contents.
Government sources now say that the administration will release the report if Andy Chan Ho-tin of the HKNP doesn’t pursue legal challenges, such as filing a lawsuit for judicial review, once authorities finish writing their report.
Otherwise, the sources say, the government will need to consult the Department of Justice first before deciding on whether to release the report.
Another figure within the government also believes that both Beijing and the Hong Kong government would like to release the report to the public.
The person pointed out that Beijing wouldn’t have, through a letter, instructed the chief executive to submit a report if it wanted the whole thing to be carried out under absolute secrecy.
Also, it would only give rise to further suspicions among society if Lam went back on her word and refuses to publicize the report as promised.
As to the speculation that the central authorities may be paving the way for enactment of Article 23 of the Basic Law, which deals with the issue of national security, by asking the chief executive to hand in the report, that government figure said he just doesn’t see any link between the two matters, and that he hasn’t heard even a rumor to the contrary.
He reiterated that the administration’s approach to enacting Article 23 remains unchanged, in that it will first try to create the right social atmosphere for such mission before actually embarking on the task.
This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on March 11
Translation by Alan Lee
[Chinese version 中文版]
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