No need to enact national security law now
There is too much division and distrust in society for Article 23 legislation to go forward at this time, not unless you want to plunge the city into a prolonged state of deep conflict
We all know Wu Chi-wai is not the sharpest tool in the shed. But the Democratic Party chairman and lawmaker sometimes seems to go out of his way to demonstrate his many intellectual challenges.
During a debate on radio, Wu said any national security legislation under Article 23 of the Basic Law, the city’s mini-constitution, should only sanction political leaders, senior government figures and legislators.
But how should we define political leaders and politicians? Wu no doubt qualifies as a political leader, but what about his fellow party members? Would they be free from legal sanctions under his suggestion if they fought for Hong Kong independence, that is, so long as they didn’t hold any political or public appointment?
If you are a political party chief, senior civil servant, a minister or lawmaker, you are already a kind of establishment figure, even if you are a pan-democrat or member of the opposition. How likely would they turn out to be a radical and a secessionist? In any case, mainstream pan-democrats have declared on public record that they don’t support Hong Kong independence.
The people who are agitating for secession are likely those working in the fringes of politics, disaffected youngsters and idealistic university students.
What’s the point of enacting law to prohibit acts of “treason, secession, sedition and subversion” when they can’t be applied to such individuals?
Either you don’t enact national security law or it has to cover everyone. On the other hand, I don’t see any problems holding back such legislation. If we can delay national security and democratic reform for 20 years, we can do it much longer.
There is too much division and distrust in society for Article 23 legislation or democratic reform to go forward at this time, not unless you want to plunge the city into a prolonged state of deep conflict and destroy the Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor administration. We don’t have any leaders in government or the opposition with the charisma, political nous or credibility to deliver one or the other, let alone both.
But more practically, Lam and her security officials have shown that provisions in the Crimes and Societies ordinances can be effectively used against rioters and protesters. They already cover national security, public safety, public order, and the banning of societies associated with a foreign political organisation or Taiwan.
Surely Beijing can see that, too.