New unit to enforce national security law in HK not secret police: secretary for security

By Chen Qingqing and Bai Yunyi Source:Global Times Published: 2020/6/16 23:47:37

Hong Kong residents from all walks of life collect online signatures and hold a gathering on Sunday morning to show their support for the draft bill to safeguard the national security law to be implemented in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region. The legal agenda was announced on Thursday night. Photo: cnsphoto

A new unit to be set up by Hong Kong police to enforce the upcoming national security law in Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (SAR) won't be a secret police, and the national security branches set up by central authorities in the SAR won't replace the Hong Kong Police Force (HKPF), as those two would be connected with "a special bond" to handle relevant cases, Hong Kong secretary for security John Lee Ka-chiu told the Global Times in an exclusive interview on Tuesday. 

The HKPF is reportedly setting up a new unit to enforce the upcoming national security law for Hong Kong, which will be under the command of police commissioner Chris Tang Ping-keung and in charge of intelligence gathering, investigation and training, media reports said. 

The new unit will be directly responsible to the chief executive. When it comes to confidentiality, the new unit will be required to keep information confidential, he said. 

The personnel of the unit will have to pass quality and personality evaluation, and have to commit to safeguarding national security. Other requirements include their analytical ability and insight, the official said. 

The new Hong Kong national security legislation allows the central government's national security organs to establish agencies in the SAR to safeguard national security, according to a draft decision on establishing and improving the legal system and enforcement mechanisms for the Hong Kong SAR to safeguard national security passed on May 28. 

The relevant central agencies established in Hong Kong are not intended to replace the work of the Hong Kong government, Lee told the Global Times. "There will be a special connection between the agencies and Hong Kong authorities, and the upcoming law will clearly state that," he said. 

Lee said these so-called concerns are similar with controversies triggered by the joint checkpoint at West Kowloon station of the Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong Express Rail Link, which allowed Chinese mainland law enforcement officers to perform duties at the high-speed rail station in Tsim Sha Tsui. 

Some people claimed people would be arrested anytime at Tsim Sha Tsui, but such claims proved to be groundless smears, he said. 

Nothing like this happened since the joint checkpoint was implemented, and it only provided convenience to Hongkongers, Lee said. 

Just like the joint checkpoint, Lee said he was confident that Hongkongers could see the effect of the national security law half a year or one year after the law is implemented. The national security law will only make the lives of Hongkongers peaceful and stable more quickly, and will not cause any changes to the society, Lee said.

When it comes to national security matters, there is only one standard - the national security standard, and central authorities hold broader information, Lee said, suggesting that local law enforcement institutions follow central authorities and closely work and share with national security agencies. 

For instance, law enforcement agencies in Hong Kong could cooperate with mainland national security agencies in training operations to handle terrorism-related cases and how to deal with people with terrorist ideas. Cooperation between local law enforcement agencies and national security institutions in services and trainings would be also very helpful.

"Formulating the national security law has to be in accordance with law and guarantee human rights," Lee said, noting that it's important to add new legal procedures to guarantee the legal rights of Hong Kong residents. 

To establish a sound and effective enforcement system to maintain national security, the HKPF needs to increase manpower, other resources and equipment, the secretary for security said. 

Some observers said that as national security matters are tackled in a highly professional manner, and ordinary police officers and officials do not have specific means - for example, investigation measures - it requires close collaboration between Hong Kong SAR and the mainland. 

The delayed passage of Article 23 of the Hong Kong Basic Law is widely believed a major factor that led to relentless radical protests in the city since last year, which has engulfed the once-prosperous Asian financial hub and pushed it toward long-term recession. The upcoming national security law offers a timely remedy to fix loopholes in the city's legal system. 

The experience of the implementation of the national security law and courts' verdicts after the law takes effect would provide great help in legislating Article 23, considering the current chaotic Legislative Council, Lee told the Global Times, indicating that legislation of Article 23 of the Basic Law is the local authority's responsibility.

"We should also absorb the experience of the national security law as the basis for formulating Article 23," he said. "Article 23 used to be demonized and smeared." 

Public perception of Article 23 will be different after the national security law is enacted, as residents will understand that the law will not affect their lives. They will be more rational in discussing or making suggestions on Article 23, Lee noted. 


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