'Common responsibility' of three branches to end violence

Top News | Angel Kwan 7 Nov 2019

Vice Premier Han Zheng told Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor that stopping violence is a "common responsibility" of Hong Kong's executive, legislature and the judiciary branches.

Han, state leader in charge of Hong Kong and Macao affairs, and Lam met at an unscheduled meeting in Diaoyutai State Guesthouse yesterday in Beijing.

But lawmaker Tanya Chan Suk-chong, convener of the pan-democratic camp, expressed concerns that Han's statement might pressure the judiciary at a time when the courts will be handling cases related to the unrest.

Echoing remarks by President Xi Jinping, who met Lam in Shanghai on Monday, Han said the central government will "fully support" the SAR government and its police in stopping violence while also "fully affirming" the commitment of the police force.

Han said the five-month unrest has turned into continued violence that has damaged social order and challenged the one country, two systems principle.

This continued violence is not tolerated anywhere else in the world, he said.

"We fully understand that Chief Executive Carrie Lam and her team have done a lot of hard work on the escalating violence in the past five months. [They are] trying their best to stabilize the situation," said Han.

"Stopping the violence is the common responsibility of the executive, legislature and judiciary."

He said it is now the most severe situation in Hong Kong since the handover and the central government will support the SAR government and police in stopping violence and restoring public order.

Lam thanked Han for his support, saying that Xi's trust and backing have strengthened her administration's determination to stop the violence.

She said Hong Kong had "good economic development momentum," but this was affected by the unrest. The protests have not stopped and the violence has escalated despite the scrapping of the anti-fugitive bill, Lam added.

After the meeting, Lam told the media that Han did not mention anything about complementing the legal system to defend national security. She also reiterated that legislating Article 23 would be difficult to do under the current unrest.

Earlier last week, the communique of the plenum called for actions to "establish a legal system and enforcement mechanism for safeguarding national security" in Hong Kong.

Chan, meanwhile, stressed that Hong Kong has always upheld the separation of power. She said the legislature serves as a watchdog of the government, and neither the legislature nor the judiciary is a part of the executive branch.

Bruce Lui Ping-kuen, senior lecturer at the department of journalism at Baptist University, said Han's point on "common responsibility" shows that Beijing is not satisfied with the "collaboration" of the three branches of government.

"In Beijing's eyes, the three powers should be collaborating instead of [working separately]," Lui said. "[They think] the judiciary, including the judges, need to be patriotic."

Xinhua News Agency released a full version of the decision of the fourth plenum of the Communist Party on Tuesday night, saying Beijing will support the SAR on "strengthening the power of law enforcement."

angel.kwan@singtaonewscorp.com

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