The Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act

September 02, 2019 17:18
The US legislative initiative will let our government officials know that there will be a dear price to pay if they continue to trample on our basic human rights and deny us the right of universal suffrage, says the author. Photo: Bloomberg

As the SAR government has remained defiant in the face of the people's five demands, the anti-extradition bill movement has continued to escalate.

That explains why throughout my recent US visit along with my Civic Party colleague Alvin Yeung Ngok-kiu, the current state of affairs in Hong Kong was always the most talked-about issue and the biggest cause for concern in our discussions with members of the American political, business, academic and professional sectors, as well as members of think tanks and international organizations.

During our latest US trip between Aug. 19 and 22, we visited New York as well as the states of Montana and Oregon.

However, the most important part of the entire visit was the “Hong Kong–United States Legislative Exchange” conference in Montana.

Upon the invitation of the US State Department, Yeung and I, along with four other Hong Kong lawmakers – James To Kun-sun, Ip Kin-yuen, Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee and Felix Chung Kwok-pan – met with, among others, Republican senators and members of the House of Representatives of Montana, in the conference.

Whenever pan-democratic lawmakers are paying overseas visits or receiving representatives of foreign organizations and individual figures from other countries, our first and foremost mission is to tell them the real situation in Hong Kong and enable them to understand what is really going on in our city.

The special event in Montana was no exception. During the meeting with our American counterparts, we walked them through the latest developments of the anti-extradition bill movement, including the three major mass demonstrations over a period of two months, in which about 1 million, 2 million and 1.7 million of our citizens respectively participated.

We also explained in detail to the US lawmakers the kind of massive arrests and excessive use of force by our police force, which resulted in the apprehension of a large number of innocent civilians and left quite a number of protesters severely injured.

We also talked about the inhumane treatment to which some of the arrested protesters were allegedly subjected and the “white terror” imposed by the central government on certain business corporations such as Cathay Pacific Airways, where a number of employees, including pilots and a flight attendant, were sacked over incidents related to the anti-extradition bill protests.

Both Republican and Democratic members of the US Congress are pushing for the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act.

One of the most important provisions of the bill is that HKSAR government officials who are found suppressing Hong Kong’s democracy, human rights or citizens’ freedoms could have their assets in the US frozen and be denied entry to the US.

We agree that the passage of the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act through the US Congress will help in our citizens' fight for democracy and in defending our human rights and freedoms.

I also believe that the vast majority of Hong Kong citizens would support the passage of this bill and let our government officials know that there will be a dear price to pay if they continue to trample on our basic human rights and deny us the right of universal suffrage.

The poor human rights record of Beijing and the SAR administration has already provided clear and sufficient justification for any US legislative initiative in support of our city’s democratization.

The only way to prevent the US Congress from pressing ahead with such a legislative initiative is for both the central authorities and the SAR government to immediately accept the five demands put forward by the citizens of Hong Kong.

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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Legco member representing the Legal functional constituency (2016-2020) and a founding member of Civic Party

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