HK delegate opens up on subversion

Top News | Michael Shum 23 Jun 2020

Subverting the SAR government will also be punishable under the upcoming national security law, says Tam Yiu-chung, Hong Kong's sole delegate to the National People's Congress standing committee.

In a televised interview yesterday, Tam said the law should be kept confidential before it is made public, even though he made the revelation about subversion.

Tam was asked whether a wording change from "subversion against the central government" stated in Basic Law Article 23 to "subversion of state power" in the legislation implies that overthrowing the SAR government is also prohibited by the law.

"It can be understood that way, but it is inappropriate for me to go into too much detail at this moment," he said.

Tam also said Beijing is being lenient by setting the national security law's maximum penalty at 10 years' imprisonment instead of life sentence as on the mainland.

"Somebody was saying the penalty is lenient, and in fact, it is! If you compare the Hong Kong version of the national security law with the mainland version, you can see the mainland one is far more vigorous - those convicted could get a life sentence," he said.

"I understand the reason behind the lenient penalty as Beijing is not rolling out the law to jail people but to hope people refrain from taking part from those activities."

In a separate radio program earlier in the day, Tam said the security law incorporates many suggestions from Hong Kong and considered the implementation of one country, two systems as well as the rights and freedoms of Hongkongers.

Enforcement will be conducted by Hong Kong enforcers, he said, and cases will be tried in mainland courts only under "very special circumstances," for example when the case is internationally related or the SAR is completely out of control.

He also dismissed claims that the national security adviser, who will sit on the national security commission chaired by the chief executive, is an overlord, saying that the adviser is a bridge for communication between the SAR and the central government.

Meanwhile, Legislative Council president Andrew Leung Kwan-yuen refused to reveal details of his recent closed-door meeting with Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office director Xia Baolong.

Leung said he attended the meeting in a personal capacity in Shenzhen at the weekend, and he used it to pass on lawmakers' views regarding the security law. He said the office would keep listening to opinions on the draft law.

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