Move on Article 23 'before Beijing patience runs out'

Local | Sum Lok-kei 3 Apr 2017

A think tank urged has Chief Executive- elect Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor to implement Article 23 anti-subversion laws through staged legislation before Beijing loses patience.

Former Legislative Council president Jasper Tsang Yok-sing, who leads the think tank, Hong Kong Vision, warned that the central government may act directly if the administration does not restart the process of implementing the contentious Article 23 within the next five years.

"Pressure has been mounting in the last few years for the government to dispose of this constitutional obligation," Tsang said.

"Various suggestions have been made about whether the central government should introduce national laws in China to Hong Kong."

Chan Chak-ming, the think tank's researcher, said this can be done via Basic Law Article 18, which allows the central government to apply national laws in the Basic Law's Annex III to Hong Kong, including national security laws.

The think tank suggested that the government employs a "staged legislation" tactic, by first updating existing laws related to treason, sedition, secession and subversion, which they think are less controversial.

The public should also be consulted thoroughly, Tsang said, as the strong opposition against Article 23 in 2003 was partly due to a lack of communication between the government and the people.

Only after social consensus has been reached should the government propose legislation, Tsang said, calling for the government to follow the suggestions to "create a trusting environment for the legislation to proceed."

Meanwhile, Tsang denied the possibility of taking up an official position in the government.

"This is not what a 70-year-old retiree should do," he said, adding he would continue to assist the government with his think tank.

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