Hongkongers should not worry about possible law enforcement by mainland authorities, city’s deputy police chief says

29-May-2020 Intellasia | South China Morning Post | 6:02 AM Print This Post

Hongkongers do not need to worry about possible cross-border law enforcement by mainland Chinese agents under a proposed national security law for the city, the deputy chief of police told the Post, as he slammed Western societies for trumping up fears over anything coming from Beijing.

Deputy Commissioner of Police Oscar Kwok Yam-shu welcomed the proposed law, which was set to be presented as a resolution to the National People’s Congress (NPC) on Thursday.

Kwok said the national security law could be the “most important singular task” given to Hong Kong police and added that more resources would be needed if officers were designated to enforce the new law.

“The Western description that there should be a lot of fear concerning anything coming from China is nonsense,” he told the Post when asked about the possible cross-border enforcement of the law.

While cautioning that few details of the law were known, Kwok said residents should have nothing to fear even if a mainland agency enforced it in Hong Kong. He pointed to Beijing’s efforts in helping the city survive crises over the past two decades.

“Our mother country has done everything possible to give the best to Hong Kong,” he said. “That’s my honest personal assessment … On that basis, I do not think that any such fearmongering is justified because after all we are talking about the normal lives of our residents.

“These things to me are like black and white, day and night. There is no ambiguity.”

Beijing last Friday proposed a law to prohibit acts of secession, subversion, terrorism or conspiring with foreign influences in Hong Kong.

It would also require the local government to set up new institutions to safeguard the country’s sovereignty while allowing mainland agencies to operate in the city as needed.

Legal experts and foreign diplomats in Hong Kong have raised concerns over the possibility of mainland agents enforcing the law in the city.

Lawmakers in the United States hoped to ratchet up pressure on Beijing over its move to “crack down on Hong Kong’s autonomy”, even as President Donald Trump told reporters his administration would soon “do something powerful” about the situation.

“You can look for examples of other countries flexing their muscles. The US government is taking action against a certain technology company citing national security. Is that based on evidence? You have plenty of such examples,” Kwok said.

Beijing expands proposed national security law for Hong Kong

Should executing the law fall solely to the force, he said officers would request more resources for training and establishing new divisions.

“This could perhaps be the most important singular task that Hong Kong police would be asked to do. We will certainly need new resources. Probably a new set up, new training. But all these are just speculation until the details of the proposed legislation are known.”

Police chief Chris Tang Ping-keung had earlier extended full support for the proposed law, citing risks to national security created by “massive violent protests” that began last June in opposition to the now-withdrawn extradition bill and the emergence of extreme separatist forces.

Between December last year and January alone, the force dealt with about a dozen cases involving explosives commonly used in terrorist attacks overseas and five cases involving seizure of firearms and ammunition.

Hong Kong needs national security law because it is ‘easy target for hostile foreign opportunists’

Kwok said the activities of groups trying to wreak havoc in Hong Kong by planting bombs were similar to those of terrorists across the globe, and such a “big threat” could only be curbed by the new law.

“We are delighted that our country has decided to take this course of action, because we have seen the biggest loophole, up close and personal,” he said.

“There is no law which we can apply [in the face of such threats], but at the same time, the duty is upon us to protect society. We feel frustrated and powerless. The introduction of dedicated legislation to enable us to take proper measures to protect society is really good news.”

Kwok said it was worth noting why some people had started to look for ways to escape certain laws when they should have aspired to be model residents and avoid approaching the thresholds of criminal behaviour.

What is Hong Kong’s national security law?

The national security law proposal sparked a new wave of anti-government protests in the city as thousands took to the streets in Causeway Bay on Sunday.

A water cannon was used to disperse protesters and volleys of tear gas were fired in a series of confrontations as some radical protesters defied the government’s coronavirus-related crowd restrictions, blocked roads, smashed traffic lights, lit street fires and hurled bricks dug up from pavements at police. About 200 people were arrested for various offences.

Kwok said the force had foreseen the return of violence but whether the new law would provide more impetus to it was another matter.

It is unclear when the proposed legislation could officially come into effect, as more discussions and legislative drafts were needed, but Kwok said shorter time frame would do the city’s security good.

“But we would rather have a sound and complete piece of legislation which we could use to tackle these problems, than having it hastily put together,” he said.

“The Hong Kong Police Force is fully capable of withstanding and repelling the threats posed by these people. We have endured so many months of public disturbance and we are still intact.

“If we were a very capable and efficient force before June last year, we are even more formidable now because of the months of operational experience and the lessons we have learned from our mistakes.”



Category: Hong Kong

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