The deadline for the Hong Kong National Party to respond to the secretary for security’s proposed ban on them will expire next Wednesday. During this time, the opposition has not sat back and waited for the government to announce a decision. Instead, their legal counsel — one thing the opposition does not lack — has been busy advising HKNP what to do. So the group, in addition to requesting an extension of the response deadline, has demanded to see all the information collected in relation to Andy Chan Ho-tin, HKNP’s convener, and asked whether the Security Bureau had any contact with the police over the matter before they proposed the ban.
At the same time the opposition has been throwing a red herring to distract the public — they have kept asking one question: What laws has the HKNP broken to deserve the ban?
Their question implies that the police must prove HKNP has committed at least one existing offense before the ban is justified. Is that correct? Let’s look at Section 8 of the Societies Ordinance, which stipulates: “The Societies Officer may recommend to the Secretary for Security to make an order prohibiting the operation or continued operation of the society or the branch — (a) if he reasonably believes that the prohibition of the operation or continued operation of a society or a branch is necessary in the interests of national security or public safety, public order or the protection of the rights and freedoms of others…”
So it is crystal clear that what it takes to ban HKNP is for the societies officer to “reasonably believe” the banning of HKNP is “in the interests of national security or public safety, public order”, and the secretary for security to accept the related evidence. Apparently the evidence collected has convinced the authorities concerned that a ban is in order. The government is proposing the ban on the basis of the Societies Ordinance. The ordinance itself is sufficient. There is no need to prove HKNP has broken any other law.
But does that mean the HKNP has not broken any other law? That has to be determined by the police. Subsequent to the ban, if enforced, the police may have to follow up on the information they have collected or dig deeper for more evidence to see if HKNP should be punished for criminal offense, if any. Some articles on this page have pointed out that there are certain existing laws that the police and Department of Justice could use to prosecute some of these radical political groups advocating “Hong Kong independence” or “self-determination”. But the ultimate solution is still to enact national security law according to Article 23 of the Basic Law. We must have the right tools in order to do a good job.
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