Hong Kong Basic Law

Hong Kong Liberal Party leader wants Legco motion on controversial national security law

Pro-establishment lawmaker Felix Chung has submitted application for slot at November 1 council meeting to debate call for public consultation

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 10 October, 2017, 10:41am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 10 October, 2017, 11:17am

A senior pro-establishment lawmaker wants the Legislative Council to formally call on the government to consult the public on the enactment of a controversial national security law.

Liberal Party leader Felix Chung Kwok-pan has applied for a slot at the November 1 full council meeting to debate his non-legally binding motion, according to a Legco secretariat document.

On Tuesday, the wording of the motion was not available. The document gave only a brief description stating that the motion would be about calling on the government to “conduct consultation and discussion on the legislative procedures of Article 23 of the Basic Law”.

Under Article 23 of the city’s mini-constitution, the government is required to enact its own national security law to ban treason, secession, sedition or subversion against the central government.

The administration planned to introduce such a law back in 2003, but backtracked after half a million people took to the streets in protest. The government has not tried to enact it since.

Chung will have to compete with at least 19 other Legco members for the two slots for motion debates at the November meeting. The deadline for applications is Friday. Lots will be drawn to decide on the successful applications.

Enact national security laws step-by-step, says former Hong Kong justice secretary

If he is unsuccessful this time, Chung will have his application put up for another draw at a subsequent council meeting.

The lawmaker was unavailable for comment.

Liberal Party chair Tommy Cheung Yu-yan declined to comment on Chung’s motion.

In a TV interview in August, Chung said enacting a national security law was Hong Kong’s constitutional duty. He said at the time: “I don’t see any problem if we are to discuss it [again]. They say the devil is in the details. If we find no devil in the details and that there are only angels, everybody is happy with that, why do we not make a law?”

Democrat James To Kun-sun said on Monday that the pro-establishment camp might be trying to take advantage of their new-found numerical advantage in the legislature to get the motion passed and pave the way for Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor to kick-start the enactment of the controversial law.

The pan-democrats lost their veto power in the legislature after six of their colleagues were disqualified over improper oath-taking.

“Although the motion is non-binding, if the motion is passed, the government can say: See, the legislature also supports us doing so,” To said.

Will Carrie Lam open the door on Article 23 and political reform in her first policy address?

After taking office earlier this year, Lam said, amid speculation she was under pressure from Beijing, that if the government did not “take a role in the [national security legislation], it fails its duty to the central government”.