Hong Kong needs to act on Article 23, or will forever regret the delay
I refer to your report on the views of the think tank led by Jasper Tsang Yok-sing, “Political reform and national security law can be achieved ‘at the same time’” (August 26).
The veteran pro-Beijing politician and former Legislative Council president urged that a committee with members from all sections of Hong Kong society be formed to oversee a consultation on a new round of political reforms, including the enactment of a national security law.
That followed the recent ruckus over the separatist Hong Kong National Party’s calls for independence, which has renewed demands from Beijing loyalists for the law to be implemented. Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor has reaffirmed the need for it but said there is no particular timetable and that the political climate would need to be favourable.
Political scientist Ivan Choy Chi-keung of the Chinese University described Tsang’s proposal to tie both issues together and roll out a public consultation as “just wishful thinking”, as he didn’t think the “Beijing or Hong Kong governments are keen on relaunching political reforms at this moment”.
What is the Basic Law of Hong Kong?
As an ordinary Hongkonger, I wouldn’t describe Mr Tsang’s proposal as “just wishful thinking”, but even the wise make a mistake if they fail to take decisive action when the opportunity presents itself; or to discern between matters of primary and secondary importance.
They should know that, once the problem has been identified, the appropriate response, measures and method must be adopted at the appropriate time.
In other words, Article 23 is a must; if there is hesitation or a delay in its implementation, the separatism and independence debate will continue to haunt us. It is a constitutional obligation that is the Hong Kong and Macau special administrative regions’ duty to fulfil. Macau acted on it nearly a decade ago. We in Hong Kong must avoid confusing the important with the unimportant, the essential with the non-essential.
However, Mr Tsang’s judgment is wise on listening to all sides. We need open-minded discussion. As the former US consul general to Hong Kong Mr Clifford Hart said in 2013: “Respect for the rule of law and globally recognised fundamental freedoms underpin Hong Kong’s status as ‘Asia’s World City’, and both are vital for prosperity and stability for this thoroughly international, thoroughly Chinese society”.
William Chiu, Victoria, Australia