Published: 12:53, June 12, 2024 | Updated: 11:34, June 13, 2024
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HK: Six absconders face curbs on funds, properties
By Gang Wen in Hong Kong
This June 23, 2016 photo shows the Central Government Offices at Tamar, Hong Kong. (PHOTO / HKSAR GOVT)

The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region government on Wednesday revoked the HKSAR passports of six absconders wanted for alleged national security offenses, and also imposed strict financial sanctions and property restrictions.

The targeted individuals — Law Kwun-chung, Mung Siu-tat, Lau Cho-dik, Cheng Man-kit, Fok Ka-chi, and Choi Ming-da — are alleged to have persisted in endangering national security after they fled to the United Kingdom. A bounty of HK$1 million ($128,000) was placed on each of them when they were put on a wanted list in 2023.

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The latest restrictions prohibit the six from making available funds, dealing with funds, or activities in connection with immovable property. They are banned from connecting with joint ventures or partnerships with other absconders.

As part of the sanctions, two of them were temporarily removed from their roles as company directors, and one was suspended from legal practice.

The police exercised their powers conferred by Sections 89(1) and 89(4) of the Safeguarding National Security Ordinance — a law enacted in March to further defend national security — to enforce the restrictions.

They continue to collude with external forces to protect their evil deeds. We therefore have taken such measures to give them a strong blow

Spokesperson, HKSAR Govt

In a Wednesday statement, a government spokesperson said the six continue to blatantly engage in activities that endanger national security after fleeing to the UK, while also making scaremongering remarks that smear and slander the HKSAR.

“They continue to collude with external forces to protect their evil deeds. We therefore have taken such measures to give them a strong blow,” the spokesperson said.

The police reminded the public that it is illegal to provide financial support or engage in financial transactions with a fugitive without authorization from the secretary for security.

The unlawful acts include leasing or making available immovable property to or from one of them, as well as establishing joint ventures, partnerships, or similar relationships with them, or investing in such ventures.

The police pledged to rigorously enforce the law and take strict action against these offenses. Violations of the restrictions could result in up to seven years’ imprisonment, police said.

Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Lin Jian supported the Hong Kong Police’s measures, saying that the actions of these absconders have posed a serious threat to national security, undermining Hong Kong’s fundamental interests and the “one country, two systems” principle.

The restrictive measures are “reasonable, sensible, and lawful”, aiming at safeguarding Hong Kong’s rule of law and protecting national security, Lin said.

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Secretary for Security Chris Tang Ping-keung cautioned the public to avoid any financial involvement with the fugitives. Subscribing to their YouTube and Patreon channels may also be considered violations of related regulations, he added.

However, he clarified that agreements and contracts made with the fugitives before the imposition of these curbs would not be affected.

Ronny Tong Ka-wah, senior counsel and a member of the Executive Council, said that paid subscriptions to these fugitives’ YouTube channels can be seen as an explicit form of providing financial support to them. Even if the subscription is unpaid, simply watching such channels will indirectly assist them, he said.

Hence, it is best to avoid any form of support, direct or indirect, to absconders so as to avoid any illegal repercussions, Tong said.

Lawmaker Quat Pei-fan said that the government’s actions will cut off these fugitives’ financial resources. They also serve as a reminder to the public that providing any funds or other financial assistance to the fugitives is considered a crime of the same nature.

The government is also sending a clear message to society that it will punish any acts that endanger national security, Quat said.