Rights front under fire after skirting queries

Top News | Michael Shum 12 May 2021

Police could take action against the Civil Human Rights Front for failing to provide information about its decade-long protest actions and banking details, commissioner Chris Tang Ping-keung says.

Tang confirmed at a Wan Chai District Council meeting yesterday that police have received a reply from the front, but added it did not answer questions on protests - a suspected breach of the Societies Ordinance is being looked into - and banking details.

Tang said police will evaluate its next steps with the Department of Justice and may launch legal action, but refused to say if banning the front is being considered.

Front convener Figo Chan Ho-wun slammed the probe.

After the meeting Tang, asked whether police will ban Apple Daily, said if fake news incites hatred or divides society, it may constitute a crime, including those under the national security law.

"I am not picking on any media outlet, but anyone who breaches the law should be mentally prepared to be arrested," he said. "Police will find relevant evidence."

In another development, two more district councillors have resigned, including Sai Kung chairman Ben Chung Kam-lun. It came on the eve of the Legislative Council passing a bill requiring all councillors to pledge allegiance to Hong Kong and uphold the Basic Law.

Chung, among 47 activists and politicians currently remanded for taking part in the pro-democracy camp's primary elections last July, announced he had resigned due to his detention under the national security law since late February, which led to his failure to carry out his duties.

"I feel extremely guilty for my inability to finish my term, and I would like to thank Sai Kung residents for their support over the last 10 years," Chung said.

He is the eighth district councillor to resign while in custody for the primary election case, after the Democratic Party's Andrew Wan Siu-kin, as well as Eastern and Yuen Long district councillors Andy Chui Chi-kin and Henry Wong Pak-yu resigned this week.

At least 22 district councillors have also quit over the past six months. Wong Tai Sin's Carmen Lau Ka-man said she will resign at the last second - before she is required to take the oath - and is parting ways with the Civic Party.

She is referring to the oath that councillors are required to take after Legco passes the Public Offices (Candidacy and Taking Up Offices) amendment bill today.

Not all pro-democracy district councillors are resigning. Yuen Long's Lam Chun said he will take the oath as he "treasures every possibility to make society better."

In response to the wave of resignations, Secretary for Home Affairs Casper Tsui Ying-wai said district councillors have their personal reasons and the government is not allowed to appoint people to fill the vacancies.


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