Legal scholar and Basic Law Committee member Albert Chen said on Saturday that Hong Kong is likely to simmer for a while as questions of collective identity – whether members of society consider themselves Hongkongers and Chinese – won't easily be resolved.
“It is difficult to see how this collective identity problem can be solved in the foreseeable future,” the legal scholar said. “The National Security Law can prohibit people from advocating secession, but it cannot prohibit people from thinking in certain directions.”
The constitutional law expert at the University of Hong Kong said the law enacted by Beijing – banning acts of secession, subversion, terrorism and collusion with foreign forces to endanger national security – will not help to resolve this issue.
“It cannot change people’s psychology or sense of collective identity as to who they are, whether they are Hongkongers and Chinese and so on. So I don’t think this problem can be resolved in the foreseeable future," he told an online seminar on the SAR's governance after the implementation of the National Security Law.
He recalled that in 2012 a national education scheme was proposed partly to address the issue, but that was eventually shelved following protests and backlash.
Chen expressed particular concern over the prospect of pro-democracy lawmakers withdrawing from Legco following Beijing's decision to extend its term for a year.
"I think this will be a negative development; if the relationship between the so-called pro-establishment camp and the pro-democracy camp continues to be as poor as it has been in the last year."
"If the pro-democracy camp continues to engage in so-called non-cooperation with the government, I don’t see any way out of this current political crisis or the problem of governance in Hong Kong," he said.
The pro-democracy camp is now split over whether its member should stay or leave the legislature, which had its term extended after Chief Executive Carrie Lam postponed the September 6 election, citing the pandemic situation.
The lawmakers belonging to the traditional political parties said they will go by the results of an opinion poll being conducted on this issue.
Pollster Robert Chung, who is conducting the poll, said on social media on Friday that the results will be released on September 29.
HK identity will fuel more simmerings: Albert Chen
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