Next Hong Kong leader must enact national security law, says political heavyweight Rita Fan

Proposals for controversial Article 23 of Basic Law were shelved in 2003 due to widespread protests, but experts say legislation is needed now more than ever

PUBLISHED : Monday, 28 November, 2016, 10:15am
UPDATED : Monday, 28 November, 2016, 10:17am

Aspirants eyeing Hong Kong’s top job next March should promise to enact the national security law in the wake of rising calls for independence, says pro-establishment heavyweight Rita Fan Hsu Lai-tai.

The call by Fan, the city’s sole representative on the National People’s Congress Standing Committee, was echoed by Basic Law Institute chairman Alan Hoo SC, who also argued such a law was urgently needed to resolve the constitutional crisis that the government was facing.

The duo’s remarks come weeks after Beijing handed down a ruling which effectively disqualified two localist lawmaker-elects for their pro-independence stance.

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Speaking on a Commercial Radio programme Sunday morning, Fan said it was a chief executive’s responsibility to consider pushing for the controversial national security law.

“The question is how it is to be done and when,” Fan said. “Any chief executive candidate who does not intend to lay down a law to protect national security [falls short of my expectations].”

Article 23 of the Basic Law requires the city to pass new laws on national security, which would prohibit any act of treason, secession, sedition or subversion.

But the government was forced to shelf the bill in 2003 after half a million people, fearful for their rights and freedom, took to the streets in protest.

Hong Kong will have no future if pro-independence activists aren’t stopped, pro-Beijing heavyweight Rita Fan says

Fan said she recognised the public concern, adding: “There are many ways to do it. Perhaps the government can amend the relevant local laws one after another. The government should explain more to the people so as to put the public at ease.”

Meanwhile in a legal seminar on Sunday, Hoo said the legislation should be enacted now, before Beijing decides to introduce its tougher security law to Hong Kong by adding it to Annex III of the city’s mini-constitution.

He added the city was currently facing a constitutional crisis as the government had not done its job to hold those pushing for independence criminally liable.

Taking a more liberal perspective, think tank Hong Kong Vision, led by former Legislative Council president Jasper Tsang Yok-sing, suggested schools include controversial social policies into civic education classes to facilitate discussions for students.

Schools do not have to impose any views on students when discussing issues such as Hong Kong independence and the Occupy movement, Tsang said on Sunday.

But he added that teachers should inform students that independence was in violation of the constitution.

“No issues should be banned from debates in schools,” he said.