Mon, Jul 14, 2003 - Page 3 News List

President backs Hong Kong's struggle

STRONG SUPPORTChen congratulated democracy activists in a speech given by the Presidential Office secretary-general and said Taiwan was firmly behind them

By Sandy Huang and Debby Wu  /  STAFF REPORTERS

The Taiwan Foundation for Democracy conducted a seminar on ``one country, two systems'' and democracy in Hong Kong yesterday. Foundation Chairman Wang Jin-pyng, Chief Executive Michael Kau, and Presidential Office Secretary-General Chiou I-jen attended. Hong Kong Legislative Council member Emily Lau and others participated via a videoconferencing system.


While expressing support for Hong Kong in defending its freedoms and fundamental rights, President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁), in a written keynote statement delivered by Presidential Office Secretary-General Chiou I-jen (邱義仁), also called on the public yesterday to cherish the fruits of democracy they now enjoy.

Via a videoconferencing system, Emily Lau (劉慧卿), a member of the Hong Kong Legislative Council, and Richard Tsoi Yiu-cheong (蔡耀昌), spokesman for the Civil Human Rights Front expressed their gratitude for Taiwan's support in their fight against their government's proposed anti-subversion legislation.

Both Lau and Tsoi are Hong Kong democracy activists instrumental in the fight against the proposed law.

Citing Taiwan's experience in democracy, Lau told seminar attendants that "Taiwan's support is very much appreciated, important and needed."

The seminar was sponsored by the Taiwan Foundation for Democracy, a government-funded foundation which was inaugurated last month.

"We hope that Taiwan can continue to support us as well as pay attention to the further development of the proposed law," said Lau, a journalist turned lawmaker who has been vocal in her opposition to the law which she said will be detrimental to freedom of the people in the territory.

Pointing to the mass turn-out for a July 1 protest, which attracted an estimated 500,000 people, Lau said that the event changed not only outsiders' stereotypes of Hong Kong's people as caring only about money, but also demonstrated the importance of freedom and democracy to the Hong Kong people.

"I hope Hong Kong people can continue to speak their mind and stand up to fight for their right as to directly elect their government officials and representatives," Lau said, adding that demand for Chief Executive Tung Chee-hwa (董建華) to step down was another cause behind the July 1 demonstration, in addition to opposition to the proposed anti-subversion law.

Tung, last Monday, eventually yielded to scale back the bill and defer passage of the legislation, which was originally scheduled for a vote last Wednesday.

Saying that postponement of the bill did not solve the issue but merely put it off for later, Cheng An-kuo (鄭安國), a former general manager of the Chung Hwa Travel Service, which is Taiwan's representative office in Hong Kong, said that an underlying dissatisfaction within the public is bound to erupt again if China does not quicken its pace in democratization and grant direct elections to the Hong Kong people.

Byron Weng (翁松燃), a professor at National Chi Nan University, said that following the proposal of the controversial anti-subversion legislation, the former British colony has become more sinocized despite Beijing's premise of "one coun-try, two systems."

When talking about the relationship between Taiwan and Hong Kong in the past six years and the outlook for the future, Andy Chang (張五岳), professor at the Institute of China Studies at Tamkang University, said that Article 23 may have a negative influence on Taiwanese in Hong Kong and the relationship between Taiwan and Hong Kong.

"Article 23 is applicable on people with permanent Hong Kong citizenship and Chinese nationality, so first we have the question of whether the Hong Kong government deems Taiwanese as Chinese," Chang said.

"The article also states that Hong Kong can still exercise its judicial power over these people even if they commit treason-related crimes outside Hong Kong. So Taiwanese with Hong Kong citizenship may find themselves in trouble even if they participate in political activities such as voting outside Hong Kong," Chang said.

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