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  • Dec 23, 2014
  • Updated: 3:27am
NewsHong Kong

Article 23 law is an obligation, says China expert

Hongkongers reminded of duty to pass national security legislation in fight for the right to vote

PUBLISHED : Friday, 08 March, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 08 March, 2013, 11:30am

Hongkongers should not ignore their obligation to enact national security legislation even as they fight for universal suffrage, a leading mainland expert on the Basic Law says.

Rao Geping, a member of the Basic Law Committee, told the South China Morning Post on Monday that passing the national security law required under Article 23 of Hong Kong's Basic Law - and pursuing universal suffrage in a "comprehensive manner" - were more crucial than technical issues such as the nomination threshold for chief executive candidates in 2017.

Rao was speaking amid heated debate on universal suffrage. Some democracy activists, impatient at the city government's lack of consultation on introducing universal suffrage in 2017, are planning an Occupy Central movement in protest.

Hongkongers, he said, should "fully and accurately implement" the Basic Law, rather than doing so in a selective manner.

Stressing that it was his personal opinion, Rao said Hongkongers should not simply enjoy their rights while disregarding their obligations.

"Enacting legislation to implement Article 23 is an obligation stipulated in the Basic Law," he said.

"Yet nearly 16 years since the handover, the legislation has yet to be enacted. You can't choose Basic Law clauses you like while ignoring others you dislike."

Yet nearly 16 years since the handover, the legislation has yet to be enacted. You can't choose Basic Law clauses you like while ignoring others you dislike

Rao said proposals like the Occupy Central movement were irrational and irresponsible.

In 2003, the city's government shelved the proposed national security laws after more than 500,000 people joined the historic July 1 march against them.

Rao, who is also deputy director of the Institute of Hong Kong and Macau Affairs and a law professor at Peking University, said many mainlanders believed it would set a bad precedent if Beijing allowed Hong Kong to introduce universal suffrage without passing the national security law under Article 23.

"It would undermine the authority of the central government and the Basic Law," he said.

Rao said the process of achieving universal suffrage would be smoother if the problem surrounding national security legislation could be resolved earlier.

Enacting the legislation would involve some difficulties, he acknowledged, but those should not be used as an excuse to turn a blind eye to the issue.



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Forgive us Hongkongers, Mr. Geiping, for not willingly relinquishing our right to free protest against the government for the sake of 'security'. Because apparently, the only way to pass a law allowing all Hong Kong citizens the right to vote is another law that allows authorities to snatch people to prison for simply speaking out against the government.
We know of China's version of justice; we hear it every day. Petitioners being arrested for trying to voice their grievances, reporters prevented from informing about news that actually matters, netizens forced to take in information from internet filters while getting banned for saying anything criticizing the Chinese government. Last time I've heard, people can't even sing the song 'Mo Li Hua' in public anymore ever since the Jasmine Revolution.
So sorry, Mr. Geiping, for not making Hong Kong more resembling to happy wonderful China. But frankly, we prefer a harmonious society where problems are addressed and answered, rather than a society that suppresses everyone pointing out the problems in the first place.

Mr Rao is simply misreading the Basic Law. The phrase on which he relies, "The HKSAR shall enact laws on its own to prohibit", does not oblige the Hong Kong Government to do anything at all. The point of the clause is in the poignant words "on its own", very unusual words indeed and there for a reason. It is entirely at the discretion of the Hong Kong Government whether to enact laws in relation to sedition, etc. The purpose of the article is to ensure that Beijing is powerless in respect of such laws. If the Hong Kong government wants to prohibit sedition, etc., it shall legislate; the article means no more than that. There is no obligation to do so.
Why does SCMP simply take what this or that mainland scholar says and reprint it parrot fashion without any opposing quotes for balance? A 10 year-old could do this. Either it's inexcusably sloppy and lazy journalism, biased reporting or, as I suspect, a combination of both.


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