Hong Kong’s criminal law prohibiting seditious intention could violate the city’s constitution, a pro-independence has claimed. The comment came in response to a group of pro-Beijing lawyers calling on Secretary for Justice Rimsky Yuen Kwok-keung to prosecute the Hong Kong National Party on Wednesday, as they have allegedly contravened criminal laws prohibiting seditious activities. In a statement published on Thursday, the party hit back at the claims. It challenged the applicability of the laws, which prohibit acts with seditious intention in Hong Kong, following the handover to the mainland in 1997. The party maintained that since the law specifically refers to seditious intention against “Her Majesty” and “the government of any other part of Her Majesty’s dominions”, it would be “arbitrary” to extend it to cover China’s central government. It argued that despite a law being passed following the handover to replace all references to the British monarch with that of the central or SAR government, there are still many uncertainties over interpretations. The road to sedition: the legal debate at the root of Hong Kong independence controversy “The offence could also be invalid constitutionally, as it may be in violation of the Bill of Rights,” the statement read. “As long as our party and allies haven’t brought the sedition offence to court to review its constitutionality, no one would know… the meaning and outcome of this offence under the Chinese colonial era.” “Hongkongers will have to wait and see whether the Hong Kong Communist regime would cooperate with our party to trigger this constitutional crisis,” it said. Barrister Albert Luk Wai-hung said while it was up to the court to decide whether the party’s interpretation of the law was correct, he noted that one of the clauses on seditious offence does not refer to the British monarchy. “I would urge them to take a look at the law as a whole,” Luk said. The barrister also warned that, should authorities decide to take legal action against members of the party, it would be the court that makes the ruling. Hong Kong National Party delegation to meet Taiwan independence advocates Democratic Party legislator and solicitor Albert Ho Chun-yan, meanwhile, dismissed the pro-independence party’s claims. He said terms that refer to the British monarch in the city’s laws have been adequately replaced legally following the handover. On Wednesday a dozen pro-Beijing lawyers issued a joint statement, condemning pro-independence groups for having gone beyond the bounds of free speech and threatened national security. Speaking on RTHK on Thursday morning, legislator Dr Priscilla Leung Mei-fun, who spearheaded the joint statement, reiterated calls on the government to clearly state in public whether advocates of independence have contravened the law. As the pro-independence party had held a press conference and also rented an office space, the lawmaker stressed that such actions already amount to seditious intention. Leung also compared allowing calls for the city’s independence to grow as standing by to watch a child play with fire. “[Hong Kong society] should study ways to discourage speech and actions that are certainly harmful to Hong Kong,” Leung said.