NPC won't delay work on security bill: Tam Yiu-chung - RTHK
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NPC won't delay work on security bill: Tam Yiu-chung

2020-05-25 HKT 11:26
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  • Tam Yiu-chung says the NPC Standing Committee will hold a meeting at the end of June to discuss the draft bill. Photo: RTHK
    Tam Yiu-chung says the NPC Standing Committee will hold a meeting at the end of June to discuss the draft bill. Photo: RTHK
Hong Kong's sole delegate to the National People's Congress Standing Committee said he does not expect the body to delay drafting of the national security law for Hong Kong, saying that members will start work on it soon after the NPC votes on the resolution on Thursday.

Speaking on an RTHK programme on Monday, Tam Yiu-chung said the standing committee will hold a meeting at the end of June to discuss the matter, and people are welcome to submit their views.

Tam said it is quite rare that a local matter is discussed at state level, showing the central government treats this seriously.

When asked whether the national security law would allow for people to criticse the regime, he said that there will be more clarity on definitions and distinctions when the bill is introduced.

He stressed that certain freedoms such as freedom of expression are protected under the Basic Law, and that vice premier Han Zheng -- Beijing's top man on Hong Kong -- repeatedly stressed that the proposed legislation is only aimed at a small number of people, namely those who advocate violence and Hong Kong independence, and won't affect the general public.

Speaking on the same programme, pro-Beijing legal scholar and Hong Kong University professor Albert Chen said he does not think mere criticism of the government would constitute subversion of state power when the national security law is enacted, but action to overthrow the government would.

He previously said that the proposed law would be tailor-made for the SAR and won't be modelled on the mainland's national security laws.

Chen, who is also a member of the Basic Law Committee, also said there may not be much room left for the committee to express any views after the NPCSC drafts the law.

Meanwhile, Civic Party chairman and former lawmaker Alan Leong described the proposed national security law as "nuclear bomb-level mutual destruction".

Leong said the pro-democracy camp should not be blamed for Beijing's decision to impose the law, as it's the SAR government which avoided the legislation after 2003 when an attempt by the authorities to introduce national security legislation was met with widespread opposition and protests.

Christine Loh, who served as a legislator just before the 1997 handover, said lawmakers had the chance to pass national security legislation before the British left.

"In looking back, one might say that that was a rather liberal version of Article 23, and in the wisdom of the time, we decided not to pass that piece of legislation, because it was perhaps better to not have it rather have it," Loh said.

"So I think there's a historical perspective that I was engaged in, and I do ask myself 'gosh, after all that time, should we have done it?'"