A top pro-Beijing lawmaker yesterday said the Hong Kong government should consider watering down an anti-subversion bill that prompted a protest by 500,000 people earlier this week. \n"Since people still have existing doubts and this has caused such a great controversy, can the government consider responding to people's worries?" asked Jasper Tsang, chairman of the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment of Hong Kong. \nThe law, expected to be enacted next week, would ban subversion, treason, and sedition, giving police more powers and carrying life prison sentences for some offenses. Many Hong Kong residents fear an erosion of local freedoms of speech, press and assembly. \nTsang's party typically supports Hong Kong's government on legislative matters, but it was not clear whether his comments would sway the administration. Tsang said he thinks the bill is fine as written, but that the government should do something to address people's worries. \nHe suggested one part of the bill that could be changed was a provision to let Hong Kong outlaw local groups that are subordinate to groups that have been banned in China on national security grounds. \nCritics say that measure might be used against Falun Gong, the meditation sect outlawed in China as an "evil cult" but which is allowed to practice, and protest, in Hong Kong. \nThat part of the bill "has raised suspicions among many people in Hong Kong and overseas," Tsang said in remarks to reporters that aired on local television. He did not immediately respond to phone calls from The Associated Press. \nJournalists are worried about a provision that outlaws unauthorized disclosure of classified information, and Tsang suggested the government could allow them to avoid prosecution if they can prove such materials were published in the public interest. \nThe government has repeatedly rejected that idea in the past. \nTuesday's rally was the biggest in Hong Kong since 1 million people demonstrated against China's deadly crackdown on the Tiananmen Square pro-democracy movement in June 1989. Protesters plan to be out again in large numbers next week. The bill is expected to pass the legislature Wednesday. \nHong Kong Police Chief Tsang Yam-pui warned protesters not to interfere with the Legislative Council. \n"If we're talking about surrounding and blocking the legislature, that impedes the operation of the legislature. It's illegal. Citizens should not do it and should not encourage other people to do it," Tsang said yesterday. \nOpposition lawmaker Lee Cheuk-yan accused Tsang of trying to keep down the number of protesters. \n"I wonder whether the top cop, by making these comments now, at such a sensitive time, is trying to smear us and prevent citizens from showing up," Lee told reporters. \nAustralia and New Zealand voiced concerns yesterday about the law and called on Hong Kong to ensure that civil liberties aren't jeopardized. The US, the EU and Britain have voiced similar concerns. \nBeijing has condemned such comments as unwarranted meddling into internal Chinese affairs.
UNFIT TO LEAD? The WHO head blamed Taiwan for attacks on his person and said that the nation’s bid to join had an ‘ulterior political motive,’ a report said WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus should not allow politics to supersede professionalism, Presidential Office spokesman Xavier Chang (張惇涵) said yesterday after it was reported that Tedros had complained about Internet commentary that he was pro-China and unfit to continue in his position. The Chinese-language report by Up Media on Thursday cited a source familiar with Taiwanese foreign affairs as saying that Tedros blamed Taiwan for attacks on his person and that the nation’s bid to join the WHO had an “ulterior political motive.” While Chang said he could not be certain what Tedros had said, regardless of the comments, his allegations were
‘TAIWAN MODEL’: The government aims to determine whether using normal scheduled flights better meets its objectives than the charter flights used previously The Straits Exchange Foundation yesterday announced a third set of flights to evacuate 440 Taiwanese from China’s Hubei Province due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The flights, operated by China Airlines Ltd (中華航空) according to its normal schedule, are on Sunday and Monday next week. They are to depart Shanghai Pudong International Airport at 7:50pm and arrive at Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport at 9:50pm, the foundation said. China Airlines is to dispatch two Boeing 777. The aircraft has a capacity of 358 passengers, but each would only carry 220 to ensure a proper distance is maintained between those onboard, it said. Within hours of the foundation
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro on Thursday stood defiant in the face of a US$15 million bounty issued by the US for him to face drug trafficking charges, calling US President Donald Trump a “racist cowboy,” and warning that he is ready to fight by whatever means necessary should the US and Colombia dare to invade. Maduro’s bellicose remarks came hours after the US announced sweeping indictments against him and several members of his inner circle, for allegedly converting Venezuela into a criminal enterprise at the service of drug traffickers and terrorist groups. One indictment by prosecutors in New York accused Maduro and
The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) yesterday reported 17 new cases of COVID-19, bring the nation’s total number of confirmed cases to 252. Of the new cases, 15 were imported and two were locally transmitted, Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中) said at the center’s daily news conference in Taipei. The 15 imported cases were seven women and eight men in their 20s to 60s who entered Taiwan between Monday last week and Monday this week, said Chen, who also heads the center. Prior to the onset of their illness, they had traveled to the US, the UK, New Zealand, Spain,