Radio Free Asia: The Final Opportunity to Oppose Article 23 of the Basic Law in Hong Kong
(Clearwisom.net) Radio Free Asia reported on December 11, 2002: December 24, 2002 will be a very unsettling day for the people of Hong Kong, as this is the last day of the public consultation period before the Special Administration Region (SAR) government of Hong Kong moves to enact Article 23 of the Basic Law. Not only are the people in Hong Kong reacting strongly against Article 23, which implements laws on treason, subversion, rebellion, sedition, and stealing of state secrets, but the United States of America and other western countries are also paying close attention to it's development, as political organizations, the media, the business world and every one in Hong Kong will be affected by the implementation of this law which the government will inevitably enforce. The following are the reasons and indications:
- The Basic Law stipulates that the SAR government shall enact the law on this matter. Qian Qichen, the Chinese Vice premier, and other officials have pressured the SAR government many times, previously, so it could not be postponed further. Moreover, it is said that the condition for Beijing's support for Tung Chee Hwa's second term in office as Chief Executive is to implement Article 23. Hence before Tung Chee Hwa resumed office he forced Anson Chan, the secretary of Administration who was against the legislation of Article 23, to leave office, thus clearing the path for this legislation.
- When the SAR government of Hong Kong issued the consultation documents, they did not follow the usual procedure of issuing a White Bill first and make their determinations based on the citizens' responses; or, if the law is to be enacted, sending out the Blue Bill in the legal document format for further specialized legal consultation. This time, the Blue Bill was sent out directly, omitting the prior issuance of the White Bill, and thus implying that the law must be implemented regardless, with no need for the detailed consultation on the legal language.
- Article 23 is the most important legislative item since the Chinese Communist regime took back Hong Kong. Yet the government only allows three months for consultation, indicating a complete lack of sincerity for the consultation. On September 24, 2002, only one month after the documents were issued and before people had a chance to study, discuss thoroughly and respond, Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee, the Secretary for Security who was responsible for issuing the documents, revealed that they had started drafting the law. The so-called consultation is but a mere formality. The government will do as they please regardless of the people's opinions.
- Also not long after the consultation documents were issued, Chief Executive Tung Chee Hwa declared that the majority of the residents supported and approved of the legislation, demonstrating that Tung would not hesitate to use any tactics, including deceptive ones, to forcibly effect the enactment of the law. So when large segments of the public raised their voices in opposition to the legislation, the government organized procommunist groups to show support, while at the same time pressuring the business community for their support. But even Li Baoguo from the Banking industry, the most conservative member of the legislative counsel, expressed concern that the investment environment would be adversely impacted. The gravity of the issue is unmistakable.
- When the democratic groups in Hong Kong appealed to the international community, and when the U.S. government and Britain, the former administrators of Hong Kong, expressed concern, the SAR government and Beijing authorities rejected their concerns, saying, "they are causing damage to Hong Kong", and that "it is China's internal affair." This demonstrates their adamant intention to push through the legislation regardless of opinions from other countries.
There exist two kinds of opposition: One is complete opposition to the legislation, which is based on the idea that the legislation is not necessary, as there are related articles in the existing laws, and issues such as subversion and rebellion do not exist in Hong Kong. The other form of opposition does not oppose the legislation per se, but that the legislation must be unambiguous. The legal profession has put forth a series of counter proposals, such as publication of the White Bill, and public consultations before the Blue Bill, and subsequent further consultations. However, up to now, there is no indication that the authority will accept any of the proposals.
People in Hong Kong, a business world, are quite realistic; many feel that it is useless to protest, and in addition worry about revenge from the government. Terror has arrived in Hong Kong. The police have broken into the homes of some dissidents many times and dragged them away, or have harassed them at other places. Some organizations that rented facilities to hold activities against Article 23 were harassed and menaced by the police, forcing many people to give up protesting. Therefore although the groups opposing the legislation plan to hold a large-scale protest on December 15, it is not expected that large numbers of people will participate. On the other hand, the Chinese Communist party is the expert at organizing mass movements. With their ability to organize and their financial clout, it is said that they would organize a gathering of 50,000 people to counter-demonstrate. In the face of the oppression by the totalitarian Chinese communist regime controlling 1.3 billion people's resources, where is the room for development of freedom in little Hong Kong? Under these circumstances, the United Nations, which trusted the PRC's pledge that "There will be no change in Hong Kong for 50 years" and accepted the Sino-British Agreement, and the western countries who supported the return of Hong Kong to China, have the responsibility to step forward and speak out for the people of Hong Kong, and to compel the PRC to abide by its pledge. Otherwise, Hong Kong, the last rose in summer, will wither in no time.