Beijing has two good reasons to be pleased
Not only has Carrie Lam delivered on the joint checkpoint at Hong Kong’s high-speed rail terminus, but she has also banned the pro-independence National Party
Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor has scored another big one, at least in the eyes of Beijing.
First, her allies in the legislature helped her force through the bill for the joint checkpoint with mainland officers at the West Kowloon high-speed rail terminus for cross-border services.
Now, she and her security chief, John Lee Ka-chiu, have banned the pro-independence Hong Kong National Party. And they did it even without the national security law under Article 23 of the Basic Law, the city’s mini-constitution.
Since the 1997 handover, the government has never been able to resolve the twin conundrums of electoral reform (democracy) and Article 23 legislation (national security), both required under the Basic Law.
The failure of electoral reform might have discredited the previous administration of Leung Chun-ying, at least for some segments of the public, but it has also been conveniently put out of the way for Lam.
She is not anywhere close to legislating national security under Article 23, but she has done the next best thing. By using public order and societies laws inherited from the colonial Brits but tweaked after 1997, they have outlawed a political party that openly supports Hong Kong independence.
Notwithstanding Lee’s claim of “a compelling case to take preventive action”, it’s hard to imagine the National Party or its clueless chief, Andy Chan Ho-tin, posed a threat to public order, let alone national security.
Chan, rightly, has been mocked for launching a revolution by issuing press releases. On the day his party was officially banned, you would think it was the one time he really needed to step up.
Instead, these have been his responses to the local and international press: “I can’t comment”; “Now I can’t say anything and have no plan to disclose”; “I need to discuss with my lawyer”; “Simply put, I will take a rest”. A Lenin or a Mandela he is not.
While he was previously given ample time to respond, the time lapse was really for the public to exhaust debate about the ban, so when it came, no one was surprised.
Of course, the ban isn’t really about his party, but about setting up a legal precedent to protect national security in the absence of Article 23 legislation.
The government can now decide which political parties are legitimate or not; which candidates can run in elections and what political platforms or agendas may disqualify them from running.
Beijing should be pleased.