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The completion of Basic Law Article 23 legislation reflects the will of the people

By Jacky Ko Chung-kit | chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2024-03-20 07:05

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]

The legislative process for Article 23 of Hong Kong's Basic Law, which enjoys strong public support, is unfolding. The national security law bill has been gazetted, and the Legislative Council has convened special sessions to initiate the first and second reading procedures. Over the past few days, the Bills Committee of the Legislative Council has diligently and efficiently completed the clause-by-clause scrutiny of the bill, reflecting the determination of both government officials and legislators to see the Article 23 legislation passed as soon as possible. Additionally, it demonstrates the efficiency of the executive-led system under the principle of "patriots administering Hong Kong" and the improved electoral system.

I have been closely following the deliberations of the bill in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region's Legislative Council. I believe that the draft bill and proposed amendments put forward by the SAR government aim to strengthen Hong Kong's national security legal system, which is a necessary measure to safeguard Hong Kong's long-term prosperity and stability and protect the basic rights of Hong Kong residents. I firmly support the proposal to resume the second reading debate and proceed to the third reading procedure in the Legislative Council as soon as possible. In the current situation, the challenges facing national security cannot be ignored, and the advancement of the legislative process is urgent. We understand and endorse the positions taken by various political groups and individual legislators in the House Committee meeting, who unanimously passed and accepted the authority's application to the Legislative Council for exemption from the notification deadlines related to the submission of the draft bill, reflecting the high importance and shared responsibility of all parties toward national security.

I believe that innocent people will not fall into the legal trap. As the saying goes, "If you have done nothing wrong in your life, you have no fear of knocks on the door in the middle of the night." Only those with guilty consciences fear ghosts, and only those who are inclined to break the law fear legislation. Therefore, ordinary law-abiding citizens have nothing to fear. In the West, countries such as the United States have at least 21 laws, the United Kingdom has 14, Canada has 9, and many other countries have laws safeguarding national security with heavier penalties than ours, with some even carrying the death penalty. Therefore, national security is indeed an international norm. Over the past period, members of the Network Influencer Workers Association and I have stood firmly at the forefront of various platforms, actively voicing our opinions and firmly defending the dignity and authority of Article 23 legislation. After the public consultation began, we submitted our opinions with sincerity, building a solid fortress to safeguard national security with words. Facing the unwarranted smears and attacks against Article 23 legislation by Western forces, we have never retreated or feared. We have repeatedly stood up, not only voicing our opinions on various online platforms but also visiting the consulates of the United States and the United Kingdom to express our unwavering commitment to the rule of law and our strong condemnation of the smears.

We emphasize that safeguarding national security is the unshirkable responsibility of every citizen. As a part of China, Hong Kong has the necessary responsibilities and obligations in this regard. Admittedly, resuming the second reading and proceeding to the third reading is not an easy task, as it requires overcoming various difficulties and challenges. Therefore, we hope that all sectors of society can rationally view and fully support this legislative process, jointly safeguarding Hong Kong's rule of law and social stability.

Completing the legislation one day earlier means national security will be effectively safeguarded one day earlier, enabling Hong Kong to focus fully on developing its economy, improving people's livelihoods, and maintaining long-term prosperity and stability. In fact, foreign chambers of commerce have also expressed that they are not concerned about Article 23 legislation. Last year, more than 382 companies were assisted in establishing their businesses in Hong Kong. Recently, the CEO of JPMorgan Chase also expressed confidence in Hong Kong, stating that their confidence in Hong Kong has never been stronger than it is today. They believe in Hong Kong for a hundred years! So everyone can rest assured. I firmly reiterate my support for the Legislative Council to resume the second reading debate and proceed to the third reading procedure for the Article 23 legislative bill as soon as possible. This not only demonstrates the spirit of the rule of law in Hong Kong but also firmly safeguards national security. We believe that with the joint efforts of the entire society, this important bill will surely pass smoothly. We believe that only on the track of the rule of law can Hong Kong continue to develop and achieve a brighter future.

Jacky Ko Chung-kit is the vice-chairman of the Y. Elites Association and chairman of KOL Workers Association.

The views don't necessarily reflect those of China Daily.


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