Hong Kong Launches Enactment Process for Article 23 of the Basic Law
On February 14, the government of Hong Kong, Special Administrative Region (SAR) of the People's Republic of China, announced the details of the controversial "National Security (Legislative Provisions) Bill" in Gazette, and started the legislative process for Article 23 to become part of the Basic Law.
Secretary for Security Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee Explained Article 23
According to Radio Free Asia's report, Hong Kong's SAR government will publish the bill to implement Article 23 of the Basic Law on Friday, February 14. Secretary of Security Mrs. Regina Ip explained Article 23 of the National Security (Legislative Provisions) Bill at a press conference on Thursday afternoon.
The new, revised draft removed the proposed offenses of "possession of seditious publications" and "concealing treason" among others. However, the part regarding banning the branches of a banned organization in Mainland China remained unchanged in the new draft.
Mrs. Ip said that organizations in Hong Kong could be banned even if they didn't commit a crime for the aforementioned reason.
In addition, regarding obtaining protected information through unauthorized means, HK SAR government narrowed the scope of the protected information. However, they still did not respond to the media's concern regarding protected information that may be in the public's interest to publish and should be incorporated in the public domain, a serious disappointment for Hong Kong Journalist Association's chair, Mak Yin-ting.
The Hong Kong Bar Association and the Law Society of Hong Kong still hopes that Hong Kong's government will hold a second round of public consultations on this Blue Bill of Article 23. Representatives from the two organizations met with HK SAR government officials on Thursday morning and listened to the officials' briefing.
Hong Kong People Are Worried and Doubtful
It was reported that Hong Kong's people and communities are worried and doubtful about the enactment of Article 23.
Hong Kong Falun Gong spokesperson Kan Hung-cheung said Article 23 gave the Secretary of Security the right to ban certain organizations and that perhaps the Hong Kong government would ban Falun Gong on account of "national security" in the future.
The Hong Kong Journalists' Association also refused to accept the new draft version of Article 23, because it did not ease public concern. For instance, the items listed under "Official Secrets Ordinance" in the draft version cannot guarantee freedom of journalism.
The former Chair of Hong Kong's Democratic Party and the Hong Kong Bar Association, Mr. Alan Leong, is concerned that the new draft of Article 23 gives the Secretary for Security too much power.
HK's SAR government will submit the bill to the Legislative Council for scrutiny in two weeks. The Hong Kong Democratic Party has already expressed their objection to parts of the draft. The Blue Bill is expected to encounter significant obstacles in the parliament.