John Lee highlights Article 23 of the HK Basic Law as top priority
Published: Apr 12, 2022 10:12 PM
John Lee Ka-chiu. Photo: CFP

John Lee Ka-chiu. Photo: CFP

After meeting with about 100 Election Committee members online and listened to their feedback about the government's future policies , John Lee Ka-chiu said he had secured more than 700 nominations as of 6 pm Tuesday. The former chief secretary for the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, who is now running in the upcoming chief executive election, also highlighted the national security legislation before he planned to submit his nomination form to the Electoral Affairs Commission on Wednesday.

During the meeting, Lee told the members that his policies would be adopted through a results-oriented approach, and they would increase the city's competitiveness and consolidate a firm foundation for Hong Kong's development. 

About 100 members from different constituencies raised questions and suggestions, such as increasing the government's investment in tech start-ups and accelerating the construction of public and private apartments to solve deep-rooted housing issues in Hong Kong. 

When asked about whether the legislation of the Article 23 of the Basic Law would be a priority, Lee said the matter is indeed a priority, reiterating that the legislation of Article 23 is part of the constitutional duty of Hong Kong. 

"I think the incumbent government has indicated that position and my position is the same," he told the members. 

Article 23 of the Basic Law stipulates that the Hong Kong government shall enact laws on its own to prohibit any act of treason, secession, sedition or subversion against the central government.

However, some 24 years after Hong Kong's return to the motherland, the legislation for Article 23 of the Basic Law has remained incomplete, making Hong Kong a weak link in national security and easy target for hostile foreign forces to disrupt public order and jeopardize social and economic interests.

The incumbent Chief Executive Carrie Lam introduced the proposal in January to accelerate the legislation of Article 23 as soon as possible, which cannot be delayed any longer. 

"To ensure the stability of Hong Kong, national security is one aspect. The city also needs to make sure its financial system could handle risks," Lee said. 

Two online sessions on Tuesday also served as an opportunity for him to collect suggestions and opinions concerning Hong Kong's business environment, talent, competitiveness and issues of concern like reopening with the mainland, providing different ideas for his political guidelines, Lee said. 

The nomination period for the chief executive election will end on April 16, and the deadline for submitting the application form will be on Thursday afternoon.

The upcoming chief executive election will be a crucial one to fully implement the principle of only patriots governing Hong Kong, setting up democratic standards for Hong Kong and unveiling a new page for good governance in the city, Tam Yiu-chung, a member of the NPC Standing Committee from Hong Kong, told the Global Times. 

"The new chief executive elected through the reformed electoral system will completely change the situation of internal battling, unifying the public and patriots to bring real benefits to Hong Kong people," Tam said. 

When it comes to Lee's priority, Tian Feilong, a legal expert at Beihang University in Beijing, told the Global Times that Hong Kong's local governance faces many risks this year in terms of security as Article 23 is an urgent issue, coordinating with the national security law for Hong Kong. 

"The chief executive and the local government need to accelerate legislation and law enforcement in countering foreign interference and illegal sanctions," he said, noting that the new governing team has to be loyal, effective and actively helpful to the city to integrate into the country's overall development plan. 

Lee told the Global Times in an exclusive interview in July 2021 that research on Article 23 has not stopped since the black-clad riots in 2019. 

From 2019 to 2020, Hong Kong experienced unprecedented national security risks, which made us see for the first time that national security risks could come up in sudden ways and cause such severe damage, he said.

He noted that so as long as we push forward with the implementation of Article 23, we must make sure it will work, by dealing with the most extreme circumstances and preventing lawbreakers from using existing loopholes.

As time is limited before the submission deadline, Lee said earlier that his first priority is to seek more support from Election Committee members before submitting his form, and he will draw up his political guidelines based on the feedback from different groups.