National Party has only itself to blame
There’s nothing unusual in banning political parties that pose a threat to national security and public order – Spain, Britain and Israel, to just name a few, have all done it
Separatist groups like the Hong Kong National Party are precisely why national security legislation under Article 23 of the Basic Law is necessary. But since the pan-democratic and localist opposition, along with a big segment of the public, have opposed such legislation, it has been left in limbo.
Meanwhile, separatist parties have operated, organised, recruited members and raised funds with impunity. The authorities have no choice but to resort to existing laws to contain and ban such groups.
The real question is not why the government has decided to move against the Hong Kong National Party, but that it has waited so long.
The National Party, led by such miscreants as Andy Chan Ho-tin, has 21 days to explain to the Security Bureau why it should not be banned. In the interest of Hong Kong, Chan and his comrades should now voluntarily disband the party and spare the city another prolonged and unnecessary political fight.
The opposition can’t have it both ways. It has long argued Hong Kong has no need to legislate against “secession, sedition, subversion … theft of state secrets, [and] to prohibit foreign political organisations or bodies from conducting political activities” in the city under Article 23.
But now, it says the government should not go after the National Party, whose political platform openly advocates secession.
Secretary for Security John Lee Ka-chiu is citing Section 8 of the Societies Ordinance to proscribe the party “in the interests of national security or public safety [or]public order”.
Critics have claimed it is an unprecedented move because the law had never been used in such circumstances. Well, that’s because we never had groups like the National Party that openly advocated independence for Hong Kong and the break-up of China.
If there had been proper national security legislation, it would have been used appropriately in this instance.
In any case, such banning of parties that pose a threat to national security and public order is nothing unusual. Spain has banned Basque separatist groups and outlawed an independence referendum for Catalonia.
Last September, British police banned two far-right groups under a new terrorism law, making support and membership punishable with up to 10 years in jail. Israel has outlawed Palestinian political parties and just passed a law prohibiting groups critical of state policies towards the Palestinians from entering schools and speaking to pupils.
Chan and his party have no one to blame but themselves.