"If you want to read a blog to get a sense of what is going on in Hong Kong these days or a blog that would tell you what life was like living in colonial Hong Kong, this blog, WALTER'S BLOG, fits the bill." Hong Kong Blog Review
"Perhaps now Hong Kong can have a rational conversation about where it sits as part of the 'one country'."
The most remarkable thing as the National Security Law rolled out is not the content. What stunned me is the complete collapse and retreat of the opposition without a shot fired. Joshua Wong threw in the towel despite years of bold and strident rhetoric. Feet of clay comes to mind.
Martyr Lee is now pronouncing he'd like to see the 2003 version of Article 23 implemented. His comment is another stunning reversal. Unfortunately, it is too late, Mr Lee! Had he and his cohort shown such rationality earlier, we could have avoided this predicament.
At the same time, on RTHK Radio 3 this morning Alan Leong, Chairman of the Civic Party, was quick to clarify his stance. He never supported independence nor the use the of violence. Leong made an effort to repeat this several times — "Alan Leong never supported independence or violence!” I hope that's cleared up. I wonder if Article 6 of the new law is playing on Mr Leong's mind:
"A resident of the Region who stands for election or assumes public office shall confirm in writing or take an oath to uphold the Basic Law of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China and swear allegiance to the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China in accordance with the law."
Avoiding the NSL was possible had the Pan Dems, including Alan Leong, acted with a degree of moderation. Instead, under the 'one country, two systems' all they saw was ‘two systems’ while rejecting the 'one country' aspect. At every turn, they questioned the legitimacy of China's government, blocking all movement on the matter. Thus, in some regards, the NSL is a rebalancing.
Let's be frank, the concept of 'two systems' in one country is novel, somewhat problematic, and yet it provided an elegant solution to the Hong Kong question. Yes, its a fudge. It could work if all sides displayed restraint with measured action.
But, last year, we saw civil disorder grow into terrorism with the intent of splitting Hong Kong from China. In the process, overseas forces aimed to batter China with Hong Kong as a convenient stick. And with the Pan Dems giving more than tacit support to the militants, Beijing acted.
Perhaps now Hong Kong can have a rational conversation about where it sits as part of the 'one country'.
While all the consequences of the NSL are not understood, I seek here to capture some of the key points. First, it's essential to recognize that the NSL appears designed to codify a response to the violence of 2019.
In Article 9 the remit of the law is spelt out including — "shall take necessary measures to strengthen public communication, guidance, supervision and regulation over matters concerning national security, including those relating to schools, universities..."
Given that the universities acted as 'opposition power bases' throughout 2019, they'll face greater scrutiny. At the Chinese and Polytechnic universities, the campuses became bomb factories and militant training centres. No country would tolerate such things.
Article 20 and 21 creates various offences around seeking independence for Hong Kong with sentencing set at three to ten years. Although here it is unclear what “… not more than five years, short-term detention or restriction" exactly means. In several places such language arises and will need resolving.
Article 22 addresses subversion. The term 'grave nature' appears. A person committing an offence considered of 'grave nature' faces a jail term of at least ten years, although a definition is absent. Again, clarification is needed.
Article 24 deals with terrorist activities. This article is in line with international definitions. Here you can see the influence of last years events with the sabotage of transport infrastructure now covered.
Article 29 limits collusion with foreign entities imposing a maximum penalty of life. Again, 'grave offence' comes up here with a minimum sentence of 10 years.
Article 30 deals with groups in Hong Kong who operate in collusion with foreign countries, institutions, organizations and individuals. Several notable NGOs may fall foul of allegations of collusion if their stance breaches the law. For example, groups like "Hong Kong Watch".
Article 42 states amongst other things "No bail shall be granted to a criminal suspect or defendant unless the judge has sufficient grounds for believing that the criminal suspect or defendant will not continue to commit acts endangering national security." This wording is a departure from established principles. Yet, the drafters may have taken a steer from the UK's anti-terrorism laws.
Article 44, which grants the Chief Executive the power to designate judges to hear cases, has already raised much comment. I expect a mechanism with the Chief Justice making recommendations and the Chief Executive endorsing the appointment. This procedure is nothing new.
The most contentious parts of the new law are in Article 48 through 61. These articles deal with Mainland enforcement agencies operating in Hong Kong. Also, the articles cover the possible transfer of cases to Mainland jurisdiction. Without specifics, it's difficult to assess and comment on how these procedures will play out. Nonetheless, these articles feed the western narrative of Hong Kong surrendering jurisdiction of the law.
Yesterday, a police officer was stabbed by a militant as he tried to clear a road of protesters. I note the international media gives that attack scant regard—this is part of a trend. A suspect was detained seeking to flee to the UK.
The international media continue to mispresent events here. Here's an example of truth distortion by the UK's New Statesman magazine "a bystander died after being hit on the head by a brick in a clash between government supporters and protesters". This incident took place last year. What happened was a street cleaner who was filming the protesters was attacked with a brick and murdered. Two people are awaiting trial for the killing.
It's easy to see why people overseas form the wrong impression. Their distorted perceptions and understanding come from the outright lies and truth twisting of the media.
There are many questions that the new NSL raises. No doubt in time, we will have some clarity. As people reflect on these matters, don't fall into the trap of the Pan Dems by seeing the world through a distorting prism. The Pan Dems played fast and loose, and lost.
Here’s a balanced view of what the laws mean by a legal mind and the full text.
Walter De Havilland was one of the last of the colonial coppers. He served 35 years in the Royal Hong Kong Police and Hong Kong Police Force. He's long retired.