Hong Kong's sole delegate to the National People’s Congress Standing Committee, Tam Yiu-chung, on Thursday suggested the newly implemented state security law is not harsh as a large number of protesters had rallied against it on Wednesday.
The pro-Beijing loyalist told an RTHK radio programme that if the law, which carries a maximum penalty of life imprisonment, were harsh, no one would dare defy it.
But he pointed out the level of violence and the number of people who took part in the protest was lower compared to previous rallies.
Thousands of Hongkongers defied a ban to mark the 23rd anniversary of the handover and protest against the new law, leading to several clashes with the police on Wednesday.
Ten people were detained on suspicion of violating the new law, for displaying flags or possessing materials deemed as promoting Hong Kong independence.
On the face of it, he said, possessing an independence flag is already a breach of the security law, but that will depend on the motive and intent.
He also said the popular protest slogan "liberate Hong Kong" is problematic, and questioned what was its true meaning.
Tam said people must now understand that certain things can no longer be done after the enactment of the law on Tuesday night, saying they would be "delusional" to use Hong Kong as an anti-China base with the support of foreign forces.
People should seek legal advice, or not do it at all, if they have questions about certain accessories or slogans, the NPC member said.
But Democratic Party lawmaker James To, a lawyer himself, questioned the police's understanding of the law. He told the same programme that people displaying a slogan alone, without other actions, couldn’t have broken the law according to international human rights law.
He said the authorities want to show Beijing they are determined in enforcing the new law, recalling a Chinese saying to describe officers as being willing to rather “kill the wrong people than let them go”.