Heed­ing China’s call, Hong Kong tight­ens grip on dis­sent

Times of Oman - - WORLD -

HONG KONG: As Hong Kong’s govern­ment hews closer to Bei­jing, of­fi­cials are tak­ing a tough line on per­ceived na­tional se­cu­rity threats, even de­ploy­ing an elite po­lice unit for po­lit­i­cal mon­i­tor­ing and sur­veil­lance - a sharp es­ca­la­tion in rhetoric and ac­tion.

In just the last few months, the spe­cial ad­min­is­tra­tive re­gion has banned the Hong Kong Na­tional Party, which es­pouses sep­a­ra­tion from China, and barred some ac­tivists from stand­ing in lo­cal elec­tions.

The Ed­u­ca­tion Bu­reau sent all sec­ondary schools in the Spe­cial Ad­min­is­tra­tive Re­gion let­ters on Septem­ber 24 say­ing they must pro­hibit “the pen­e­tra­tion” of the Na­tional Party or risk prose­cu­tion.

And this month, Hong Kong re­fused to re­new the work visa of Vic­tor Mal­let, Asia news ed­i­tor for the Bri­tish-based Fi­nan­cial Times news­pa­per, af­ter he hosted a speech by an in­de­pen­dence ac­tivist.

“We can see them (the govern­ment) be­ing much more as­sertive in us­ing these pow­ers and in shap­ing their pol­icy de­ci­sions to re­flect the na­tional in­ter­ests,” said Pro­fes­sor Si­mon Young of the Univer­sity of Hong Kong’s law school, say­ing the courts may be a last line of de­fence against govern­ment over­reach.

Serv­ing and re­tired po­lice of­fi­cers, lawyers and law­mak­ers de­scribe in­ten­si­fy­ing po­lit­i­cal op­er­a­tions by the po­lice force’s Se­cu­rity Wing, an elite unit that of­fi­cially han­dles sen­si­tive tasks in­clud­ing VIP pro­tec­tion and counter-ter­ror­ism in­ves­ti­ga­tions. Sources fa­mil­iar with the wing’s work say it led sur­veil­lance and mon­i­tor­ing op­er­a­tions against the Na­tional Party and more than a dozen other groups.

The Hong Kong Jour­nal­ists As­so­ci­a­tion re­cently de­scribed the prospect of tougher na­tional se­cu­rity en­force­ment as “a sword dan­gled above the heads” of re­porters.

In his role as first vice pres­i­dent of the For­eign Cor­re­spon­dents’ Club of Hong Kong, Mal­let in Au­gust hosted Andy Chan, head of the Na­tional Party. The party was banned last month as an “im­mi­nent threat to na­tional se­cu­rity” as the govern­ment in­voked lit­tle­known clauses of a law reg­u­lat­ing pri­vate groups and so­ci­eties.

Full story @ time­so­fo­man.com/world

- Reuters

PROTEST: Dis­qual­i­fied pro-democ­racy law­maker Lau Siu-lai at­tends a protest, af­ter her bid to stand in a by-election had been re­jected, out­side the Leg­isla­tive Coun­cil in Hong Kong.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Oman

© PressReader. All rights reserved.