"Traitors" would seize power in Hong Kong and turn the city into a base for promoting secession if the city is not "protected" by a national security law based on Article 23 of the Basic Law, said a pro-Beijing group at a protest march yesterday.
About 40 people from the I Care Action group yesterday marched from Causeway Bay to government offices in Admiralty urging the government to legislate under the article, which requires the city to pass laws banning acts of "treason, secession, sedition and subversion" against the central government.
An earlier attempt to pass a controversial Article 23 law was scrapped after half a million people took to the streets to protest it in 2003.
"Without Article 23, Hong Kong will soon follow the footsteps of Syria and Libya. Our city will be in ruins if those independence advocates go unchecked," said the group's convenor Chan Ching-sum.
"It's common knowledge that most politicians from the pan-democratic camp are funded by foreign and anti-China forces," Chan said.
"Without the protection of Article 23, if a traitor is unfortunately elected as the chief executive, it will be a de facto seizure of power by enemies of the state."
Article 23 would also provide a legal basis to arrest the anti-mainland protesters who "harass tourists while trying to take away jobs from those who work in tourism industry", she said.
A retiree attending the march said the sight of colonial-era flags at recent protests had provoked him to take to the streets for the first time. Seeing a student in 2008 waving a Tibetan flag as the Olympic torch arrived in Hong Kong had made him "worried".
"There must be a law that protects the state, otherwise Hongkongers will be at the mercy of these traitors and external forces," the 70-year-old said.
The group said participation in the march peaked at 150 people; police put attendance at 55.
Chief Secretary Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor in January dispelled fears that the draconian national security law would be back on the agenda soon, saying it was "not a priority".