NPC deputy Peter Wong Man-kong in new call for for national security law
A local deputy to the National People's Congress is seeking support to revive the call to Beijing to introduce national security legislation in Hong Kong.
It comes after pro-independence activists broke into the People's Liberation Army headquarters in Admiralty late last month, carrying a colonial-era Hong Kong flag and calling on the PLA to "get out" of the city.
The latest call is from Peter Wong Man-kong, a veteran Hong Kong member of the national legislature. Wong submitted a similar proposal to the NPC during the annual plenary session in 2010, but NPC Law Committee chairman Qiao Xiaoyang said it should not be discussed then and it was the business of the Hong Kong government.
"Several years ago I did it on my own because I did not want to bother my colleagues. But now I am considering submitting a proposal again, and this time expanding it to a collective proposal by inviting other deputies to co-sign it," Wong told the Sunday Morning Post.
The move is bound to be controversial. In 2003, the government was forced to shelve proposed national security legislation after it ignited a huge public backlash in the city, with 500,000 people taking to the streets. Years later, it remains a sensitive topic.
Such a bill would fulfil the requirements of Article 23 under the Basic Law, which specifies that the city should enact laws to prohibit any act of treason, secession, sedition or subversion against the central government.
The plenary session is held in March every year. If Wong gets 30 signatures, he will be able to file a binding submission to the NPC.
Even if he doesn't get that number, and the submission is non-binding, the central government departments concerned will still have to respond.
Wong said he hoped a law on national security would help reduce "irrational activities" such as the December 26 break-in to the PLA barracks in Admiralty. Four people have been arrested over the incident and are believed to be members of a pro-independence group calling itself Hongkongers Come First.
Wong said he had long advocated such legislation, and it should be brought in as soon as possible, but he conceded that constitutional reform would be a more pressing task for the local government.
"Since the exposés by Wikileaks and Snowden, more has been made known about what foreign forces led by the US do in Hong Kong," Wong said. "It is possible that some people have been incited to stage certain activities while others are just acting as individuals."
But the plan was not backed by lawmaker Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee, who quit as security minister in 2003 after she was criticised for ignoring public opinion over the Article 23 debacle.
Ip, of the New People's Party, said there was no immediate need to table the bill again as existing laws would already cover such cases. "Breaking into the barracks, of course, should be condemned. But this has nothing to do with any of the crimes stated in Article 23," she said.