Hong Kong says 99% back new security law in public consultation, though participation 15% of 2002 exercise

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Hong Kong says 99% back new security law in public consultation, though participation 15% of 2002 exercise

Almost 99 per cent of public consultation participants support Hong Kong’s looming homegrown security law, the Security Bureau said on Thursday citing provisional figures. Authorities said they received 13,147 submissions, representing 15 per cent of the more than 90,000 views received during the same exercise in 2002.

The public consultation document of Hong Kong’s homegrown security law, Article 23, on January 30, 2024. Photo: Kyle Lam/HKFP.

Opinions were collected by fax, post and email, whilst 3,000 people from different sectors took part in 30 consultation sessions, according to a press release.

Article 23 of the Basic Law stipulates that the government shall enact laws on its own to prohibit acts of treason, secession, sedition and subversion against Beijing. Its legislation failed in 2003 following mass protests and it remained taboo until after the onset of the separate, Beijing-imposed security law in 2020. Pro-democracy advocates fear it could have a negative effect on civil liberties but the authorities say there is a constitutional duty to ratify it.

See also: Article 23 then and now: What changed between 2002 and 2024

A spokesperson claimed that the legislative proposal had “majority support” from the public following the consultation. Of the submissions, “12,969 (98.64 per cent of the total) show support and make positive comments; while 85 (0.65 per cent of the total) purely contain questions or opinions therein that cannot reflect the authors’ stance and 93 (0.71 per cent of the total) oppose the legislative proposals, amongst them over 10 are overseas anti-China organisations or abscondees,” they said.

The spokesperson added that different organisations and bodies had shown support for the law with 512 open statements, bylined articles and joint letters, which were submitted as part of the consultation.

Chief Executive John Lee has vowed to pass the legislation this year.

In 2002, over 90,000 views were collected during a three-month consultation, and over 250 seminars were held, according to a government press release. The 2024 exercise was held over just one month.

Then-security chief Timothy Tong said in 2002: “There is no question of extending Mainland laws or concepts on national security to Hong Kong.”

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