Bad idea to impose national security law on HK: Elsie Leung

January 22, 2015 13:35
It is neither appropriate nor necessary to impose a national security law on Hong Kong, Elsie Leung says. Photo: HKEJ

Former justice secretary Elsie Leung Oi-sie said imposing the mainland’s national security law on Hong Kong would be inappropriate and unnecessary, Ming Pao Daily reported Thursday.

Beijing is drafting a new law to replace the existing national security legislation, and there is no point debating whether to impose it on Hong Kong before knowing what the new law looks like, Leung said Wednesday in an interview with Commercial Radio Hong Kong.

Stanley Ng Chau-pei, a deputy to the National People’s Congress (NPC) from Hong Kong, recently called for a state security provision to be appended to the Basic Law, the city’s mini-constitution.

Rejecting the idea, Leung, who is deputy director of the NPC Standing Committee's Basic Law Committee, said the national law is more constitutional and concerned with principles, while Hong Kong’s legal system needs more concrete and clearer provisions to define its areas of application.

She said the national security law and local legislation required by Article 23 of the Basic Law are two separate things.

Apart from the fact that mainland laws are normally not adopted by Hong Kong, Article 23 envisages something similar to the crime of endangering public security, which is covered by the mainland’s criminal law, she said.

Basic Law Committee member Maria Tam Wai-chu also said she sees no need to implement the national security law in Hong Kong except in extreme situations, such as when the city declares a state of emergency.

Tam said Article 23 has been generally misunderstood by Hong Kong people, as it is actually aimed to protect rather than suppress freedom.

It benefits Hong Kong, and legislating its provisions should be a priority, she said.

Meanwhile, Qiang Shigong, a professor of Hong Kong and Macau studies at Peking University, said trying to legislate Article 23 would not be realistic at the moment, as Hongkongers have shown it too much resistance, Apple Daily reported. 

Qiang, who helped write the central government's white paper last year on the implementation of the "one country, two systems" principle in Hong Kong, said it would be more feasible to include the national security law in the Basic Law as an attachment, as Ng suggested.

Based on his remarks, some people in Hong Kong political circles see an attempt by hardliners in Beijing to use alleged meddling by foreign forces in Hong Kong affairs and the sympathy among the city's youth for the notion of self-determination as reasons to push for a law in Hong Kong to protect national security, Apple Daily said.

And if the city will not legislate the provisions of Article 23, these hardliners suggest it may be forced to accept even tougher provisions through an amendment to the Basic Law.

-- Contact us at [email protected]