Article 23 Legislation for HK

I can’t resist not uploading something today, 29 February, which recurs only once in four years. There was a time when it was very well known that Baroness Dunn was born on 29 February 1940 meaning that she could and maybe would only celebrate her birthday every four years, but that is not the point I was trying to make in this blog.

Yesterday, Hong Kong was preoccupied with Paul Chan’s Budget for next year, so much so that the TVB’s 7:30 pm one-hour news was pre-empted to give way to a live-Joint-interview with him on the Budget. Personally, I think an equally momentous news item if not more so – by virtue of its potential long-term effects – was the conclusion of the consultation on the HK’s domestic national security legislation to be proposed and enacted in accordance with Article 23 of Hong Kong’s Basic Law.  What should naturally follow now would be the introduction of a bill to the Legislative Council for vetting, examination, and enactment through due process.

It was therefore most disconcerting that the British Foreign Secretary David Cameron should say on the record that the proposed law would inhibit freedom of expression and threaten legitimate diplomatic activities in the city. This of course was the Cameron who had precipitated in Brexit and who resigned as Prime Minister as a result. Most appropriately, Beijing hit back in no time that his attacks on Hong Kong’s moves were groundless, as the Chinese embassy in London followed up by saying that the Sino-British Joint Declaration did not give Britain the right to intervene in Hong Kong’s affair. It was reported that Cameron had revealed UK officials had raised their concerns over the bill “privately” with the authorities in Hong Kong.

I know of no compromise on matters of national security for any states. For that matter, the British national security law provides only a vague concept but broad authorization for law enforcement agencies so that it is extremely easy for the law to be abused. And I wouldn’t even begin to start discussing the laws in the United States. Suffice it to say that the US nation security laws are powerful, extensive and all embracing, but are vague and never really defined.

From time immemorial, it has always been on everyone’s mind that nothing can be kept secret. Indeed, most spy stories are but a fraction of what happened in real life. It was said that all conversations, information and messages on smart phones are accessible to some spy agencies somewhere, except that the information loads have become too much, too unwieldy and unintelligible by virtue of the different languages employed that it was too costly and uneconomic to even attempt to begin to make any sense of such information.

In short, national security laws have always been around in any state that is serous about national security. In Hong Kong, we have had distinguished lawyers representing the profession making representations recently that there is a need to define what state secrets are. I am not a lawyer, but it does boggle my little mind to hear anyone making such statements and for the media to report it routinely as even it was a novel idea.  If state secrets can be defined or put down in words, they can’t and won’t be secrets anymore.

The court proceedings on Jimmy Lai have been going on for sometime and in the process many uncanny details have been revealed. The public’s attention has also been forcibly directed to details suggesting that some on the who’s who list ought to not have been let loose or to appear to have been. Ghastly details on young people caught in 2019 during the height of the dark days were disturbing. We have a lot to thank our police and the law enforcement squads for that matter.

The West aided by the powerful media support built up over time has traditionally and routinely labeled Russia and China as culprits for stealing information they classified as secrets or with national security interest to them. In the end, one simply needs to take a position to defend the country which is one’s native land and to which one should pledge allegiance.    

Meanwhile, eating and drinking would continue, here and everywhere.

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