27 January 2020
Invoking the emergency law will have serious ramifications for Hong Kong, according to the author. Photo: CNSA
Invoking the emergency law will have serious ramifications for Hong Kong, according to the author. Photo: CNSA

Edward Yau is being economical with the truth

Earlier this week, Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development Edward Yau Tang-wah told reporters that the international community would understand and be considerate if the SAR government invoked the Emergency Regulations Ordinance, and that there wouldn’t be any impact on our economy.

So is there any truth to what he said?

First, let us look at some of the provisions of the ordinance concerning financial and trading activities.

Under the emergency law, the chief executive is given power to provide regulations for:

- “Censorship, and the control and suppression of publications, writings, maps, plans, photographs, communications and means of communication;”

- “Control of the harbours, ports, waters of Hong Kong, and the movements of vessels;”

- “Trading, exportation, importation, production and manufacture;”

- “Appropriation, control, forfeiture and disposition of property, and the use thereof;”

- “The taking of possession or control on behalf of the Chief Executive of any property or undertaking.”

Now, how possibly can our financial market and economy not be seriously affected when, under the emergency law, the government can control at will the flow of information and the circulation of assets?

Will foreign investors really “understand” why the SAR government is doing this and continue to invest and do business in our city with confidence as usual?

Also, will our city’s international reputation as a free port be intact once the emergency law is invoked?

As we can see, invoking the Emergency Regulations Ordinance is virtually not much different from imposing military rule upon Hong Kong. And common sense will tell us that this will have serious ramifications for our city.

Right now, Hong Kong is facing a recession amid the ongoing Sino-US trade conflict and the economic slowdown in mainland China. Invoking the emergency law at this point would definitely prove the final nail in the coffin.

As Hong Kong’s status as an international financial hub is hanging by a thread, I believe it is the responsibility of each and every citizen in this city to make every effort to stop the SAR government from doing the unthinkable!

This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on Aug 29

Translation by Alan Lee

[Chinese version 中文版]

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Edward Chan Hon-fai, Financier Conscience