Criticism points to harsher Article 23, says Tai - RTHK
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Criticism points to harsher Article 23, says Tai

2018-04-02 HKT 11:17
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  • Criticism points to harsher Article 23, says Tai
Legal scholar Benny Tai says the recent outpouring of criticism against him has further limited freedom of speech in the city.

After mainland and SAR officials, as well as pro-establishment lawmakers, condemned him for hypothetically suggesting that Hong Kong could become an independent state at a forum in Taiwan last month, the overseas edition of the People's Daily newspaper also slammed him for being a separatist trying to attack the sovereignty of the nation.

But Tai stressed he does not support Hong Kong independence and he was only exploring options should China become democratic in future.

He said he believes the SAR government intends to further raise the baseline for Article 23 legislation, perhaps making it even stricter than the original draft version which was shelved in 2003 following widespread opposition.

He said:" If my speech were to be set as the baseline of the future Article 23 legislation, then the new Article 23 legislation will be even more encroaching, and some people in Hong Kong may say that, well that last draft actually seems to satisfy certain standards on human rights protection, and therefore we could accept that.

"But if there is a new baseline now, even if it may not involve violence, just merely speech will be sufficient for people to have contravened those offences, then that must be something Hong Kong people must seriously consider."

During the forum last month, Tai said people need to consider what they want should China become a democratic country. He said Chinese people, including Hongkongers, should think about whether or not they want to set up an independent country or a federal government.