CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Saturday, 13 July 2019

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Article 23 is back on the agenda

HONG KONG (Agencies): Lina Chan Lai-ngor, the executive secretary of the Hong Kong Justice and Peace Commission, says that she is not surprised that the central government in China appears impatient to impose Article 23 of the Basic Law, an anti-subversion and security law, on Hong Kong.

Chan said that she thinks the sudden up in charges being laid in Hong Kong against people involved in incidents at demonstrations is an attempt to limit the space left for freedom of speech in the city.

She said that there has been a gradual tightening going on for years and it is limiting the scope of the one country two systems manner of government.

She explained that the Justice and Peace Commission has joined other civic groups in objecting to Article 23, especially since the political system still lacks universal suffrage and, consequently, can easily be abused by the authorities to control society.

On November 22, Zhang Xiaoming, deputy director of Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office of the State Council in Beijing, published a 6,000-character article in the Hong Kong newspaper, Wen Wei Po.

He comments on issues relating to politics and law in the city, including Article 23. He also accuses outside forces of interfering in elections in Hong Kong.

Commentators interpret Zhang’s reference to outside forces as being related to remarks made about Hong Kong and Macau by the former president of China, Hu Jintao, during the 18th plenum of the Congress of the Communist Party in early November.

Members of the Civic Party and other commentators in Hong Kong have been critical of Zhang over his comments, claiming he is meddling with Hong Kong’s autonomy and undermining the one country two systems principle.

Alan Leong Kah-kit, from the Civic Party, said in a press statement that the central government has tasked the Hong Kong government with implementing legislation related to Article 23.

He added that he believes that there is no evidence to back Zhang’s accusation of foreign forces interfering in the Hong Kong elections or the city’s internal affairs.

Chan said that the commission will concentrate on raising awareness among Hong Kong people about the importance of human rights, the rule of law and education.

The Justice and Peace Commission will also join other civic groups in campaigns to raise awareness about what they term excessive use of police force and recently introduced security laws, which she described as being restrictive.

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