Why the Emergency Regulations Ordinance may be needed

September 11, 2019 16:36
A fire is seen at the entrance of Central MTR Station last Sunday after an anti-government rally. Authorities may need to invoke an emergency law to tackle the situation, an observer argues. Photo: Reuters

During a protest rally at Victoria Park on Aug. 18, some participants addressed the crowd and said that they saw themselves as Hongkongers, and not Chinese.

Based on what I heard through the live television broadcast of the mass rally, I have reached a conclusion that there are two types of residents in Hong Kong.

The first is those who accept the jurisdiction of the constitution of the People’s Republic of China over Hong Kong, and agree that they are Hong Kong residents with Chinese citizenship.

Let's refer to this type of citizens as the “constitution-abiding people”.

The second type of residents are those who advocate that Hong Kong doesn’t belong to China, and see themselves as Hong Kong residents without Chinese citizenship. I would refer to them as the “constitution-defying protesters”.

In my view, in order to protect the “constitution-abiding people” in Hong Kong, including the frontline MTR staffers who are firmly sticking to their job and duties despite being attacked by violent protesters, there is a necessity to invoke the Emergency Regulations Ordinance.

Taking into account various factors, we can say that there could be up to a million “constitution-defying protesters” in the city. Among them, quite a few may be having right of abode in foreign countries.

I think the Hong Kong government must face this reality. The rationale behind using the emergency law is not to round up the insignificant troublemakers, but rather, to seize the opportunity and regain the legislative initiative that has been lost for long.

And since the million-strong “constitution-defying protesters” don’t respect the Chinese constitution, don’t see themselves as holding Chinese citizenship, and are directly or indirectly bullying, harassing or intimidating the constitution-abiding citizens, I believe such people don’t deserve the right to stand for public elections.

One feasible way to strip these people of their right to run for public elections is to invoke a clause under the Emergency Regulations Ordinance. 

By invoking the clause, we can put in place a law that would require all those who wish to stand for public elections or cast votes to present valid Mainland Travel Permit documents to the authorities.

I believe such arrangement can help make it easier to facilitate smooth transition of “one country, two systems” through 2047.

This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on Sept 9

Translation by Alan Lee

[Chinese version 中文版]

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