The pro-democracy alliance which for decades organised June 4 vigils has always been subversive in nature and should disband or risk prosecution, a pro-Beijing stalwart warned on Monday.
Lo Man-tuen, vice-chairman of the All-China Federation of Returned Overseas Chinese, said in a Ming Pao article that the Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements in China will be outlawed if it doesn't dissolve itself voluntarily.
"There's no question of the alliance changing its form and being preserved – there's no such room and possibility," Lo wrote, alleging that all the group's goals involve going after the Chinese Communist Party.
Disbanding is the best option for the alliance, Lo said, adding that law enforcement would not "punish past wrong-doings" and the pan-democrats involved in the group "are believed to be safe".
"But if they get classified as a subversive organisation under the national security law, they could face criminal risks, much like those who take part in the Legislative Council primaries," he said.
The alliance's secretary, Richard Tsoi, however, dismissed the warning, saying there had been similar comments from mainland officials recently.
He said he doesn't know whether Lo's remarks reveal the thinking of the authorities, or just the views of a particular faction of the pro-Beijing camp.
"In any case, we will stand firm in our work, we will not be threatened.... We do understand, from time to time, the alliance will face political challenges," Tsoi told RTHK.
He said members "may be scared, but we won't change".
Despite his defiant stance, a number of pro-democracy groups have quit the alliance since reports emerged that it may be outlawed.
On an RTHK programme, Tsoi also accused the police of having political motivations for their show on force on Friday to ensure people did not gather at Victoria Park to mark the anniversary of the 1989 crackdown in Beijing.
He said the police may have been "extra nervous" being as this year is also the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Chinese Communist Party.
Pro-Beijing lawmaker and lawyer Paul Tse said on the same programme that he thinks the government should be forthcoming and tell the public that the vigil was not just banned because of the pandemic as claimed, but also because of national security concerns.