Taiwan should be concerned over potential breaches of human rights and national security ramifications after a Hong Kong court-appointed liquidator sought permission to order Taiwan-based Apple Daily and Next Magazine to turn over all of their assets, the Economic Democracy Union said yesterday.
The union, a consortium of non-governmental organizations, urged the government in Taipei to take immediate action to ensure that Hong Kong’s National Security Law would have no foothold in Taiwan.
Hong Kong courts are nothing more than a rubber stamp for the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), and the liquidator could function as a “fixer,” representing the CCP in Taiwan, union member Chiang Min-yen (江旻諺) told a news conference at the Legislative Yuan in Taipei.
Photo: Liao Chen-huei, Taipei Times
The union urged the government and the public to pay attention to the issue, which it said could seriously infringe on privacy rights, and harm press freedom and national security.
The Ministry of Culture should issue an administrative order restricting Apple Daily and Next Magazine from turning over personal information to the liquidator, the union said.
Until authorized by courts here, the Ministry of the Interior should not allow the liquidator to pass through customs and operate in Taiwan, the union said.
The Ministry of Economic Affairs should annul Hong Kong-based Next Digital’s registration of its Taiwan operations, it said.
The situation is still pending a decision, with the court in Hong Kong to meet on Dec. 15, union convener Lai Chung-chiang (賴中強) said, adding that the appointment of the liquidator was a unilateral decision that was not witnessed by Next Digital’s legal representatives.
The Code of Civil Procedure (民事訴訟法) says that Taiwan’s courts can decline to enforce rulings made in foreign courts, Lai said.
The demands would exceed the liquidator’s authority, as turning over opinion and commentary pieces would be unnecessary, with such an order demonstrating clear political motives, he said.
Taiwan’s Apple Daily and Next Magazine are not direct subsidiaries of Next Digital, so the liquidator should provide a legal basis showing that Next Digital owns and controls the Taiwan-based newspaper, he said.
Taiwanese courts have not examined the liquidator’s demands, so Apple Daily would be within its rights to ignore them, he said.
Taiwan Citizen Front member Hsu Kuan-tse (許冠澤) said that Next Digital’s assets have been frozen and its offices raided by Hong Kong police, which are acts of political oppression by Beijing.
Apple Daily founder Jimmy Lai (黎智英), Next Digital chief executive officer Cheung Kim-hung (張劍虹) and five other top executives are serving prison terms, proof that Beijing is waging a war against free press within its borders, Hsu said.
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