The Chief Executive, Carrie Lam, is to meet the media at 3pm on Friday together with a host of top ministers, amid widespread media reports that the government is set to invoke emergency powers under a rarely-used colonial-era law to immediately impose a ban on face masks at protests.
The press invitation did not specify what Lam and her team will be speaking about. However, there have been numerous reports in local media that her Executive Council met this morning to discuss invoking the Emergency Regulations Ordinance.
Meanwhile three school principals have confirmed to RTHK they have received a telephone call from the Education Bureau, saying that it would issue an important letter at 3pm to all secondary and primary schools.
The bureau also asked the principals to explain the content of the letter to their students before the school finishes on Friday and to notify their parents using relevant means.
This emergency ordinance gives the Chief Executive sweeping powers – including enacting new laws – during emergency situations.
It would also allow Lam to authorise arrests, detentions and deportations; censor the press; seize property; and hand her total control of all transport, manufacturing and trade in the city.
However, reports suggest the government only plans to use these emergency powers to implement a face-mask ban.
Prominent pro-government figures have in recent days been ratcheting up their calls for the government to make this move, in order to better enable the authorities to rein in the escalating anti-government protests that have rocked the city over the past four months.
However, legal experts and pro-democracy politicians have spoken out in the strongest terms against such a move, warning that invoking the law would be the beginning of a slide into authoritarianism; jeopardise the SAR’s status as an international trading hub; and drive businesses out of the city.
Lam herself had expressed reluctance to invoke the emergency law just last month, saying officials have to carefully assess the impact such a move might have – whether it would backfire, or worsen Hong Kong’s already damaged reputation in the international community.
CE to meet media amid reports of anti-mask law
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