HK heavyweights support police action

2021-01-08 12:03:16

Hong Kong's city view. [Photo/Agencies] Prominent figures in Hong Kong on Thursday endorsed the actions of the police in arresting 53 activists for attempting to paralyze the special administrative region's government operations. Had their plan succeeded, Hong Kong would be thrown into chaos and the whole of society would have suffered, they warned. The group of people, arrested a day earlier for alleged subversion under the National Security Law for Hong Kong, were linked to a self-organized ballot held in July last year, which was part of a " 10-step plan" to paralyze the government. According to the plan, the opposition group would aim to secure an absolute majority in the legislature and indiscriminately vote down all government proposals, including the annual financial budget, to force the government to shut down. Maria Tam Wai-chu, deputy director of the HKSAR Basic Law Committee under the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress, said if government funding were cut off, it would cause grave consequences for people's livelihoods, affecting infrastructure, education and social welfare. Article 22 of the National Security Law stipulates that any person who organizes, plans or participates in acts that undermine the central government's or the HKSAR government's power to perform duties by unlawful means, with a view to subverting State power, shall be guilty of an offense. Although the plan didn't come to fruition, as the election of the legislature was postponed due to the pandemic, Tam believes such an attempt aimed at severely undermining the government may have breached Article 22, as organizing or plotting to implement such acts is also constituted a crime, according to the article. Agreeing with Tam, senior counsel Ronny Tong Ka-wah likened the attempt by the activists to a failed attempt to rob a bank, which would still be counted as a potential crime, with the plotting and preparations done beforehand. If someone were to have a "10-step plan" toward committing a crime, but only carried out half of the steps and failed to complete it because of some intervening event, it doesn't mean that person is not still guilty of a criminal offense, Tong said. Former Hong Kong Legislative Council president Rita Fan Hsu Lai-tai noted that the opposition figures' claim to veto bills and the financial budget indiscriminately in the legislature was nothing close to the duties of lawmakers conferred under the law. Rather, they intended to topple the government and ultimately plunge Hong Kong into "total disorder". Such an attempt would have serious consequences as it would deprive residents of their rights to access public services. At the end of the day, it is the seven million Hong Kong residents, not just the handful of people who carried out the plan, who will suffer and pay the price, said Fan. Fan also said she believed those who voted in the primaries were misguided victims, who have not realized the consequences of such a plan. Hong Kong Police on Wednesday also revealed that it will not go after those that voted. The arrests have drawn criticism from some Western countries, including the United States and the United Kingdom. The Hong Kong government has hit back at criticism from some foreign politicians about the arrests. "The National Security Law for Hong Kong applies equally to every person in the city and no one is above the law. We are appalled by remarks made by some overseas government officials that seemed to suggest that people with certain politic al beliefs should be immune to legal sanctions," said a government statement.