Article 23 of Hong Kong’s Basic Law should have been in force a long time ago, ex-top cop says

Former police commissioner also said the government should address public concerns about the controversial national security law

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 10 November, 2016, 8:03am
UPDATED : Thursday, 10 November, 2016, 11:08am

Hong Kong should have enacted the national security legislation as required by the Basic Law “a long time” ago, former top cop Tang King-shing said, suggesting also that the key to preventing public outrage is for the government to listen to and address public concerns over the controversial law.

Former police commissioner Tang, also a local delegate to the mainland’s top political advisory body, made the comments after the city was shaken by Beijing’s move to issue an interpretation of the Basic Law, effectively barring pro-independence advocates from becoming lawmakers.

Adding to the controversy, Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying said there was now “practical significance” to enact Article 23 in the wake of the pro-independence and separatist drive.

“If you look at any countries, any place in the world, there are always similar [pieces of] legislations for the protection of those places. I don’t see any reasons why Article 23 should not be legislated ... it is also a requirement under the Basic Law,” Tang told the Post.

In 2003, the government was forced to scrap a plan to enact Article 23 of the Basic Law after half a million people took to the streets. The article states that Hong Kong “shall enact laws on its own to prohibit any act of treason, secession, sedition, subversion” against the central government.

Tang said officials should learn from the 2003 experience and make sure the public understands why the law is “important” for Hong Kong in the future. “It’s not just a matter of trying to pacify the people.

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People genuinely don’t understand ... the government needs to arrange forums to ... create opportunities for the people to voice their concerns,” he said.

He supported Bejing’s Basic Law interpretation because “that’s the right thing to do”. “At this moment, I don’t see any adverse impacts,” he said, when asked if it would harm investment incentive in the city.

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Tang, who retired from the force in 2011, also reflected on his 34 years of service with the police.

“I put my hand on my heart and I tried my best to do the job ... No regrets,” he said.

Tang also addressed public dissatisfaction with the force, saying there are bound to be people who agree and disagree with the force. “You mentioned Occupy Central ... their supporters have a lot to say about the police force, which is understandable. But on the other hand, there are also other sectors of the community, putting ads on newspapers and even taking to the streets to support the police,” he said.

On the upcoming chief executive election, Tang said he has not thought about who should become the next leader except to share what qualities he thinks the leader should possess.

“A good leader is one who is able to communicate ... communication is very, very important. In formulating policies, you need to communicate with the public ... because they are the people who are going to suffer (or) benefit from the policies,” he said.