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Concern over possible life terms for security crimes

2020-06-28 HKT 16:42
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  • Concern over possible life terms for security crimes
Critics of the upcoming national security law have voiced concerns that those convicted in future could face a maximum sentence of life imprisonment.

Civic Party chairman Alan Leong, who attended RTHK's City Forum on Sunday, hit out at what he sees as a lack of transparency in the legislative process. Leong said it's "most ridiculous and preposterous" that even the Chief Executive, Carrie Lam, and the justice minister, Teresa Cheng, said they have not yet seen detailed contents of the bill being discussed by the National People's Congress Standing Committee.

He said not only does the law affect the entire population of more than seven million in Hong Kong, it could also carry a life sentence, yet Beijing is still not making anything public.

"If you want us to observe the law, it must have some objective certainty to it, and there's no certainty to it at all," Leong said.

Another guest at the City Forum, local NPC delegate Wong Kwan-yu, said while Hong Kong people may not be used to this kind of decision making, "it is the kind of decision making in the central government".

Wong also said it's "reasonable" to jail those found guilty for life. He pointed out the law would only target a few people, and it must be stiff enough to have a deterrent effect.

The proposed national security legislation would outlaw secession, subversion, terrorism and collusion with foreign forces. The NPC deputy said the penalty for terrorism should be higher than that of rioting, which currently carries a maximum sentence of 10-year imprisonment.

Separately, a pro-establishment heavyweight, Maria Tam, said she hopes the national security law imposed on Hong Kong would lead to a "second reunification" with China.

The deputy director of Beijing's Basic Law Committee told mainland media that the law "should further rectify some people's wrong values, and allow them to understand that Hongkongers are Chinese".

"The better development the country has, the better development it will be for the world, as well as Hong Kong," Tam said.

She said the primary effect of the law will be to stop the violence and chaos in the SAR.