KONFRONTASI - Hong Kong’s leader Carrie Lam has reiterated that the new national security law proposed by Beijing would not affect rights and freedoms in the semi-autonomous Chinese territory, amid a wave of protests over the bill.
Lam said during a regular news conference on Tuesday that the bill would not have to raise concern.
“There is no need for us to worry. In the last 23 years, whenever people worried about Hong Kong’s freedom of speech and freedom of expression and protest, time and again, Hong Kong has proven that we uphold and preserve those values,” she said.
Lam also urged those concerned to wait to see the details of the legislation.
“The best thing is to see the legislation in front of us and to understand why at this point in time Hong Kong needs this piece of legislation,” she said.
Hong Kong was rocked by violent protests over another bill that would have reformed its extradition law last year. Rioters vandalized the city, destroying public and private property and attacking anyone deemed to be pro-government. Hong Kong dropped that bill, but the acts of violence continued.
Beijing proposed the new national security law last Friday. It is expected to criminalize sedition, secession, and subversion against the mainland. It would also pave the way for Chinese national security institutions to operate in the city for the first time since 1997, when Hong Kong returned from British to Chinese rule.
The introduction of the bill sparked a protest in Hong Kong last Sunday, the first major protest since the anti-government demonstrations last year.
More protests are expected to take place on Wednesday.
Skeptics say the law would be a blow to the territory’s autonomy and civil liberties, but Beijing has assured that the bill would target a minority of individuals who disregard law and order in Hong Kong.
Chinese military’s Hong Kong garrison backs Beijing
Meanwhile, the commander of the Chinese military’s Hong Kong garrison, Chen Daoxiang, has expressed the garrison’s support for the new legislation.
Daoxiang said in a rare interview that the Chinese military officers and soldiers stationed in the garrison in Hong Kong had the determination and ability to protect China’s national sovereignty and the city’s long-term prosperity and security.
The protesters have been demanding Hong Kong’s secession since last year. They have received encouragement from the United States.[ptv]