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Monday, Dec 05, 2022

Article 23 bill withdrawn as 'more study needed'

The Administration Wing has taken out 15 bills - including Article 23, the enactment of Hong Kong's own national security law - from the Legislative Council agenda for the second half of this year.
A draft bill for the city's own national security legislation was on the council's agenda, but the new administration does not have plans to submit it to the city's legislature by the end of the year.

"Legislation for Article 23 of the Basic Law is Hong Kong's constitutional responsibility and has practical use. The SAR government will continue to work toward enacting legislation for Article 23, and will launch a public consultation in due time," said a spokesman for the Security Bureau.

Speaking ahead of the weekly meeting yesterday, Chief Executive John Lee Ka-chiu said the administration will have to anticipate all the national security risks possible.

"We will enact legislation of Article 23 as soon as possible, but under this principle, we must also consider whether our legislation can deal with anticipated issues and the strongest threats to national security," he said.

Lee had previously said that conducting comprehensive legal research is more important than passing the legislation for Article 23, as he hopes that the legislation will not be subject to any amendments after it has been passed.

The SAR government is required under the Basic Law to legislate Article 23, which stipulates that it shall enact its own laws to prohibit national security offenses.

The Beijing-imposed law deals with secession and subversion against the central government.

The legislation of Article 23 failed in 2003 following mass protests and public outcry.

Lawmaker Lai Tung-kwok, who was the former secretary for security, said the legislature's move was expected.

"During the fifth wave of the epidemic, the Security Bureau mobilized a lot of manpower and spent a lot of time fighting the epidemic ... [The delay] has little impact, because we have the Hong Kong national security law as well as other local laws," he said.

Speaking on a radio program, Secretary for Security Chris Tang Ping-keung said the legislation of Article 23 will depend on the societal situation.

"The state of stability that we are currently enjoying was fought hard for and we must continue to reckon with past events or events that may occur in the future from a legislative standpoint," he said.
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