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Sunday, Feb 28, 2021

Security law will create new HK 'special branch': CY

Security law will create new HK 'special branch': CY

Former Chief Executive CY Leung said on Saturday that the mainland could establish a new intelligence agency in Hong Kong under the proposed security law to deal with threats to the nation.
In an interview with Reuters, Leung referred to the British colonial era Special Branch, which was dismantled before the territory was handed over to Chinese rule in 1997.

"Singapore has a Special Branch. We don't. America has all kinds of law enforcement agencies that are tasked to deal with national security threats. We don't," said Leung.

"So it's not surprising that as part of the efforts to fill the national security legal gap, we need to have a body," he said.

The National People's Congress, announced on Thursday a draft decision on "establishing and improving a legal system and enforcement mechanism for Hong Kong to safeguard national security".

Meanwhile vice-chairwoman of the Basic Law committee, Maria Tam, also hinted that under the new law mainland agents could investigate cases here.

She said they could join Hong Kong police in investigations that “could be joint efforts”.

Police from outside Hong Kong would need "approval" from local authorities to conduct investigations, she said. “And you cannot investigate on your own.”

"I'm not worried about anybody being arrested by a police officer from the mainland and then taken back to China for investigation or punishment," Tam added.

"It is not, not, not going to happen."

The 2019 protests began over a disputed bill that would have allowed extraditions to the mainland, but unrest later snowballed to include demands like universal suffrage and probe into accusations of police brutality.

If someone is arrested and prosecuted, Tam said, "it will be done all within the existing Hong Kong legal system".

The proposal goes to a vote on Thursday, the final day of the annual session of the NPC. It will then be up to another NPC Standing Committee, to enact national security legislation.

It is unclear when the law would be approved but the committee meets every two months – and Chief Executive Carrie Lam said the local government will complete the legislation "as soon as possible".

Tam said she hoped the law would "reduce the kind of riots and destruction that we see in the streets."

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