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Councilors vow to explain Article 23 to HK residents

By Xi Tianqi in Hong Kong | China Daily | Updated: 2024-02-06 09:36
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Hong Kong will enact a new national security ordinance to address risks, Chief Executive John Lee Ka-chiu announces at a news conference on Jan 30, 2024. [Photo/Xinhua]

Hong Kong district councilors attending a government briefing on Monday vowed to proactively explain to the community about the urgency of the legislation of Article 23 of the Basic Law, and garner their support and advice in the legislative process.

On Jan 30, the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region government launched a monthlong public consultation on the legislation of Article 23 — which will be achieved by introducing a new ordinance to tackle various types of national security crimes.

The Department of Justice and the Security Bureau organized a briefing on Monday to brief district councilors, members of the District Services and Community Care Teams as well as other representatives of local communities about the content of the consultation paper, hoping the move will help them better explain the ordinance to the public and collect people's advice and suggestions.

A similar briefing will be held on Tuesday.

After attending Monday's briefing, Marcella Cheung Man-ka, a district councilor from Tsuen Wan, said Deputy Secretary for Justice Horace Cheung Kwokkwan provided detailed background information and an overall introduction of the consultation paper at the briefing.

Another speaker, Secretary for Security Chris Tang Ping-keung, explained different types of crimes in the proposed law, including treason, insurrection, theft of State secrets and espionage, sabotaging or endangering national security, and external interference, she said.

Cheung believes that as a district councilor, her role is to represent the local community and act as a bridge between residents and the government. She hopes the legislation of Article 23 will strengthen national security while safeguarding the rights and interests of people in Hong Kong.

Victor Chan Chi-ho, a Sai Kung district councilor, said he learned from the consultation paper as well as officials' explanations that the legislation of Article 23 is not only a constitutional responsibility for Hong Kong, but also an issue of urgency and rationality.

He said the proposed ordinance takes reference from many legislations across the world with the aim of striking a good balance between safeguarding national security and protecting human rights. Chan pledged to promote the public consultation, clarify misconceptions and garner more support for the legislation.

Tuen Mun District Councilor Kam Man-fung, said that Horace Cheung explained why the legislation of Article 23 is necessary for the city and compared it with foreign laws during the briefing.

The Hong Kong Federation of Trade Unions — the city's largest labor union — held online and offline consultation sessions on Sunday, inviting the union's staff to explain the legislation's consultation paper for over 800 attendees.

At the event, FTU President Stanley Ng Chau-pei said that safeguarding national sovereignty, security and development interests is the highest principle of "one country, two systems". Safeguarding national security is also a constitutional responsibility of the SAR government, which is a must-do and should be completed as soon as possible.

Kingsley Wong Kwok, the federation's chairman, said the legislation of Article 23 targets a very small number of criminals who endanger national security and will have no impact on the daily lives of ordinary residents.

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