Expert sees security law helping PLA

Local | Staff reporter 9 Apr 2014

The application of the mainland's national security law in Hong Kong would provide a legal basis for the People's Liberation Army to take action in the SAR in emergencies before Article 23 is legislated locally, an expert said.

Basic Law Institute director Alan Hoo Hon-ching, also a Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference member, was commenting on remarks by Basic Law Committee member Rao Geping on what Beijing could do without the enactment of an Article 23 security law.

Rao said that the national security law can be introduced in Hong Kong.

Hoo believes that what Rao meant was that in an emergency situation - like the SAR being paralyzed by Occupy Central - the local use of the national security law would provide a legal basis for the PLA to operate.

Hoo said nobody could be sure that Occupy Central would not run out of control and cause a riot, sparking a state of emergency.

"If police could not handle the situation and there is not a legal basis for the PLA to act, the use of the national security law would be the only option to fill the vacuum left by the absence of Article 23," he said.

Hoo is the first pro-Beijing political figure to publicly cite a role for the PLA in the recent controversy.

He suggested that Hong Kong should activate the legislative process of Article 23 and set up a task force, rather than using Article 18 to add national security in Hong Kong to cover Occupy Central.

"Article 23 is not an evil law, but it can prevent the national security law, which Hongkongers think is evil, being introduced into Hong Kong," he said.

Executive Council member and former security chief Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee said national security laws were considered when drafting the Basic Law.

"But the security law is rather sensitive and it needs to comply with the principle of common law," she said. "The security law may not be added into the Basic Law Annex III both technically and legally."

Ip said the government's priority is political reform and it is for the Security Bureau to evaluate the urgency of legislating.

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