The legislation of Hong Kong’s own security law, Article 23, was delayed due to the city’s fifth wave of Covid-19, the city’s security chief said on Wednesday.
The Secretary for Security, Chris Tang, also said the government expected to be subject to “smearing” by “overseas media, foreign forces, and their local agents” when it launched the legislation, and that the government would have to reassure Hongkongers in the face of such “fabrications.”
The security chief was asked about the progress of Article 23 and the government’s communication strategy by lawmaker Chan Siu-hung in the Legislative Council (LegCo) on Wednesday.
In response, Tang said the legislation had been delayed by the city’s recent Covid-19 outbreak as the Security Bureau and the Department of Justice – which were leading the enactment of the legislation – “had put controlling the pandemic as the mission that supersedes all at the beginning of the year.”
Article 23 of the Basic Law stipulates that the Hong Kong government shall enact laws on its own to prohibit any act of treason, secession, sedition, subversion against the central government. Its legislation failed in 2003 following mass protests. The government has always had enough votes to pass the law, but it has never been raised since the 2003 debacle. Pro-democracy advocates fear it could have a negative effect on civil liberties.