Don't test law by using protest slogan: Teresa Cheng - RTHK
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Don't test law by using protest slogan: Teresa Cheng

2020-07-04 HKT 09:40
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  • Don't test law by using protest slogan: Teresa Cheng
The Secretary for Justice, Teresa Cheng, on Saturday warned people not to test the new national security law by continuing to chant the popular protest slogan “Liberate Hong Kong, the revolution of our times”, but stopped short of saying those who use the phrase would definitely be barred from running for public office.

The government had issued a statement on Thursday saying the slogan – one of the most popular chanted at anti-government rallies over the past year – ‘connotes’ Hong Kong independence, altering the legal status of the Hong Kong SAR, or subverting state power.

Speaking on RTHK, Cheng denied that this is a new interpretation of the slogan made in the wake of the new national security law, saying the authorities had always taken such a view.

She also conceded that the government statement has no legal effect.

"Ultimately it will be a matter for the court to make a decision as to whether the overall acts – not just the words, but also the acts of the particular defendant –amount to an offence under the relevant sections of the National Security Law", she said.

However, she said the new law does contain a “clear explanation” of what kind of acts are illegal.

Pressed whether chanting the same slogan before the law was implemented, Cheng said “We shan’t look back”, stressing that the fact is, the law is here now, and she hopes people won’t test the law by using these ‘eight words’.

Cheng also stopped short of saying anyone who uses the slogan would definitely be barred from running for public office.

She stressed that such decisions should be up to election officials.

“It is a matter that one must separate from the national security law because the national security law is concerned with acts that is going to endanger national security – it’s not concerned with other matters… The election is a separate matter that is governed by another legislation that has been enacted in Hong Kong.”

Cheng said returning officers would have to determine, based on law and evidence” whether candidates for election are genuine in their pledge to uphold the Basic Law.

At the same time, she also offered assurances to local media that they need not fear the new law, so long as they refrain from grossly exaggerating or making up news with the intent of 'overturning' the system.

I think it’s important for the media here that a proper discharge of your duties fairly and objectively in reporting news that have happened, cannot possibly cause you into the remit into violating the articles in the national security law, because in the national security law, there is a very clear requirement of the intent", she said.

"So if you are objectively dutifully and professionally reporting the news, there is nothing that is affecting your duties now."

Last updated: 2020-07-04 HKT 11:22