The Chinese National People’s Congress (NPC) Standing Committee is to vote on Hong Kong’s security legislation tomorrow morning, the day before the territory’s handover anniversary, Now TV News reported yesterday, signaling Beijing might soon hand down a measure that pro-democracy advocates and business groups say could erode the territory’s unique freedoms.
At a three-day meeting that started yesterday, the Standing Committee discussed the legislation to punish acts of secession, subversion, terrorism and collusion with foreign forces, Radio Television Hong Kong (RTHK) reported earlier, citing Ip Kwok-him (葉國謙), a member of Hong Kong’s Executive Council and one of its non-voting delegates on the committee.
The proposed legislation includes a life sentence for acts of secession and subversion, according to the Now TV report, which cited unidentified people.
The penalty would be far more severe than what Tam Yiu-chung (譚耀宗), the territory’s only voting delegate in the committee, has suggested.
Prison sentences for the four types of crimes would range from three to 10 years and would be largely in line with Hong Kong’s criminal laws, RTHK said last week, citing Tam.
Albert Ho (何俊仁), former chairman of the territory’s Democratic Party, said the proposed sentence did not surprise him.
“It is a shame that the so-called Hong Kong delegates just let the legislation go through like this,” Ho said. “It is also a shame for China — how can it face the world?”
If the proposed law passes during this Standing Committee session, it could come into effect in time for Wednesday’s anniversary of the territory’s return to Chinese rule in 1997.
Under the legislation, the central government would retain its authority in the territory in three specific circumstances, Now TV said, without providing details.
About 56 percent of residents oppose the legislation, compared with 34 percent who support it, a Reuters/Hong Kong Public Opinion Research Institute poll released on Friday showed.
In related news, hundreds of Hong Kongers yesterday marched silently through the streets in protest against the proposed national security legislation.
Riot police armed with shields were present as the crowd moved from Jordan to Mong Kok in the Kowloon district, as part of a “silent protest” in which they marched with the usual chanting or slogan shouting largely absent.
Scuffles broke out in Mong Kok, prompting police to use pepper spray to subdue parts of the crowd, an eyewitness told Reuters.
“I am here to oppose the national security laws,” said Esther, 25, who was on the streets. “It’s not the last battle, there is a long-term resistance [to the laws].”
Additional reporting by Reuters
‘HERO OF THE ERA’: President Tsai Ing-wen expressed deep sadness at Lee’s passing, and told the government to assist his family with all their needs Former president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) passed away at 7:24pm yesterday at Taipei Veterans General Hospital. He was 97 years old. The hospital stated the cause of death as septic shock and multiple organ failure. Lee had been hospitalized there since February, when he choked on a mouthful of milk at home. He was later diagnosed with pulmonary infiltrates and aspiration pneumonia. The hospital said that Lee had been treated with antibiotics, but that his health had not improved, as his advanced age and diabetes had inhibited his immune system and led to recurring infections. During his hospitalization, Lee underwent daily kidney dialysis, which removed
‘WEAK POSITIVE’: The man arrived in Taiwan in May and was quarantined for two weeks, Chen Shih-chung said, adding that he might be infected a long time ago The government is considering tightening mask-wearing rules again in light of a potential domestic COVID-19 infection, Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中) said yesterday. The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) confirmed seven new COVID-19 cases, six of which are imported. The other case involves a Belgian engineer who entered Taiwan on May 3 and remained in quarantine until May 17, said Chen, who heads the CECC. Although the source of infection has yet to be identified, the case could end the nation’s record of not having any domestic cases in the previous 110 days. The Belgian, in his 20s, is a technician
RECEIVING TREATMENT: President Tsai Ing-wen, Vice President William Lai and Premier Su Tseng-chang visited former president Lee Teng-hui yesterday morning Taipei Veterans General Hospital yesterday rebutted speculation that former president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) had died a day earlier, saying that he was weak, but receiving treatment. The hospital said the 97-year-old Lee was not in good condition and needed ongoing care, adding that if there are any changes in his condition, it would make those public. The comments came after rumors emerged online on Tuesday that Lee had died after being hospitalized since early February. Soon after the unsubstantiated rumors emerged, reporters started flocking to the hospital seeking confirmation. Lee was admitted to Taipei Veterans General Hospital on Feb. 8 after choking while drinking
THAI CASE UPDATE: Twenty-nine close contacts of the worker have been tested with two types of tests, including 18 dorm mates, with 28 negative results so far Five imported cases of COVID-19, four from the Philippines and one from Hong Kong, were reported yesterday, bringing the total confirmed cases in Taiwan to 467, the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) said yesterday. The four returning from the Philippines were on the same flight, and the local health department has identified 15 people who had direct contact with them — including 10 passengers in the two rows in front or behind them, who have been put under 14-day home isolation, and five crew members, who will practice 14-day self-health management, said Centers for Disease Control (CDC) Deputy Director-General Chuang Jen-hsiang