The founder of the pro-independence Hong Kong National Party, Andy Chan Ho-tin, has said that other political parties could face similar bans to the one handed to his party last week.
Speaking to the media on Sunday, Chan said if the government was able to use the Societies Ordinance to crack down on his party, then other political parties, community organisations and pressure groups will also face similar dangers in the future.
“I worry this is just the start. The government does not even need to enact Article 23 legislation anymore, because they’re already using other laws right now to produce the same effect as Article 23,” he said.
Article 23 of the Basic Law would give the Hong Kong government more power to outlaw actions that might threaten national security.
The government postponed plans to roll out Article 23, following large-scale protests against the legislation in 2003.
“The Societies Ordinance states that [an organisation's] operations can be shut down on the basis of national security – that’s basically Article 23,” explained Chan.
Chan was notified last Tuesday that the government had begun procedures to ban his party from operating. Secretary for Security, John Lee Ka-chiu, said the government planned to use part of the Societies Ordinance to implement the ban because the group posed a threat to national security.
Meanwhile, the Hong Kong Journalists Association has also expressed concerns that the police have used a large number of media reports as evidence against the Hong Kong National Party.
In a statement released on Saturday, the association said the use of the reports as evidence could damage press freedom. This is because media organisations could be seen by authorities as helping others to harm national security.
The association also expressed concerns that news organisations might face criminal charges if they report on the activities of pro-independence groups that are declared as illegal societies.