Bookseller warns on free speech

DRASTIC CHANGES::Hong Kongers are concerned about their freedoms under the co-location arrangement, former Causeway Bay Books manager Lam Wing-kei said

By Lee I-chia  /  Staff reporter

Sun, Aug 06, 2017 - Page 3

Hong Kong-based Causeway Bay Books former manager Lam Wing-kei (林榮基) yesterday said he is not optimistic about maintaining freedom of speech in Hong Kong, adding that he is planning to open a bookstore in Taiwan next year.

Lam — who is one of five men associated with publisher and bookstore Causeway Bay Books who disappeared at the end of 2015 and reappeared in China a few months later, saying they were kidnapped by Chinese public security — attended a public forum at the National 228 Memorial Museum in Taipei yesterday.

The forum was part of a special exhibition on the 228 Incident and pro-democracy movements in Hong Kong.

After screening a short version of Raise the Umbrellas, a documentary on the origin and impact of Hong Kong’s pro-democracy “Umbrella movement” and Occupy protests in 2014, Lam said Beijing’s rule in Hong Kong has been increasingly strict in the past two decades.

“The way Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) is dealing with Hong Kong is the way he will deal with Taiwan in the future,” he said, adding that Hong Kong has drastically changed since Xi took power.

Lam said the co-location arrangement gives Beijing more control over Hong Kong, and that Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam (林鄭月娥) might enact Article 23 of the Basic Law at the next session of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress.

Article 23 states that the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region can enact laws to prohibit acts of treason, secession, sedition, subversion or theft of state secrets, as well as prohibit foreign political organizations or bodies from conducting political activities in the region, and prohibit those in the region from establishing ties with foreign organizations or bodies.

Freedom of speech would be restricted and conversations about subjects such as Hong Kong independence, Tibetan independence or Taiwanese independence would be considered a violation of national security, which many Hong Kongers are concerned about, Lam Wing-kei said.

Political commentator Paul Lin (林保華) said some people think that if the Chinese government does a good job with the “one country, two systems” formula in Hong Kong, it could set an example for Taiwan.

However, Xi would use the “one country, one system” approach in Taiwan, Lin said.

Lam Wing-kei said he has visited several areas on his 10-day visit to Taiwan and is hoping to open a bookstore in the nation next year, hopefully in an area where there are many Chinese visitors.