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Saturday, May 30, 2020, 09:40
Experts: National security law conducive to HK's stability
By China Daily
Saturday, May 30, 2020, 09:40 By China Daily

A veteran law professor in Hong Kong said the national security law will contribute to Hong Kong’s stability and development, citing other jurisdictions’ successful experiences with such laws.

Richard Cullen, an Australian professor with the University of Hong Kong, is confident that Hong Kong’s well-established legal system can act as a gatekeeper (against abuses), and the proposed law for Hong Kong will not undermine the legitimate rights of Hong Kong residents after it is enacted.

If it is properly applied, the national security law could improve the city’s legal framework and foster its social stability, which will in turn undoubtedly favor business operations

Richard Cullen, an Australian professor with the University of Hong Kong

This can be inferred from the experience of other jurisdictions with such a law, where the daily lives of the population remain unaffected, Cullen said.

China’s top legislature adopted a resolution on Thursday that proposes to introduce a national security law for Hong Kong.

In a phone interview with China Daily, Cullen said that if it is properly applied, the national security law could improve the city’s legal framework and foster its social stability, which will in turn undoubtedly favor business operations.

He cited as an example Singapore, which has much in common with the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region.

“Singapore has one of the most robust national security law regimes in Asia. … But businesspeople love Singapore. They know it’s reliable and has a fine legal system. Safe and dependable.”

The Internal Security Act 1960, which is similar to China’s National Security Law, was enacted by the fledgling Federation of Malaya, the peninsular portion of present-day Malaysia, to prevent subversion and organized violence. The law was extended to include all of the then-newly created Malaysia — including Singapore — in 1963. Singapore retained the law when it separated from Malaysia two years later.

A remarkable characteristic of the law is preventive detention, which allows police to detain without trial people suspected of endangering national security.

Despite the tough law, Singapore has maintained a favorable business environment. According to a report by the World Bank in 2019, its business environment ranked second worldwide.

Singapore’s experience proves that having robust national security legislation and enforcement is not at all incompatible with having a business-friendly society, Cullen said.

He also said that Hong Kong could take a page from Macao, China’s other special administrative region, which enacted a national security law in 2009.

Macao has been able to function smoothly under the principle of “one country, two systems” without major difficulties, Cullen said, adding that it also has done a good job with economic growth and livelihood improvement.

He acknowledged the difference in the political environments in the two SARs, but said Macao could serve as a reminder to Hong Kong that the implementation of a national security law will not contain the economy’s development, he said.

Cullen said a similar conclusion can also be reached from the example of Western countries such as the United States and Australia, which enacted national security laws long ago.

Angelo Giuliano, a Swiss financial consultant who has lived in Hong Kong for three years, echoed Cullen’s sentiments and voiced his support for the national security legislation, saying the law will prevent the city’s social unrest from getting completely out of control and help create a more stable and peaceful Hong Kong.

Many foreign businesses in Hong Kong may start leaving the international financial center if the violence and chaos continue, Giuliano said.

“So I think this is becoming very urgent that we enact this law; thus we can be in a more peaceful place,” Giuliano said.

He added that foreign interference into Hong Kong affairs is one of the main reasons why the city is in chaos and why there is an urgent need for the legislation.

Giuliano slammed the double standards of US President Donald Trump, who has threatened to have looters shot in order to curb the violence that has erupted this week in Minneapolis, the largest city in the US state of Minnesota.

Violent protests in recent days broke out in Minneapolis after George Floyd, an African American, was handcuffed, pinned to the ground, and then allegedly choked to death by a white police officer.

China never pointed fingers at the US over what is happening in Minneapolis, but you can see that the US often meddles in Hong Kong’s affairs, which are China’s internal affairs, he said.

“I think this is a joke. Which is a police state?” Giuliano said.

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