The government announces senior appointments and removals. Matthew Cheung is released from his misery (where will he retire?). Unusually for a Security Secretary, John Lee moves up to Chief Secretary. Police Commissioner (for 19 months) Tang Ping-keung becomes Security Secretary. Deputy Commissioner Siu Chak-yee is the new police chief. (The release omits the last two’s ‘Chris’ and ‘Raymond’.)
John Lee defends his suitability for the Chief Secretary role…
“It is important that there is a senior officer to give an objective view, consider it from other angles, taking into consideration other interests and concerns, so as to ensure all the concerns and matters are addressed, and I consider that as my main function,”
This is a partial, as well as rambling, job description for the Chief Executive’s deputy. Lee has presumably been put into the number-two position not merely to coordinate but to ensure that every government department becomes a NatSec-compliant department. We can imagine he and Chris Tang being co-opted by the CCP long ago; years of grooming as trusted locals now come to fruition after Beijing assumes direct rule under the NatSec Regime.
The chatter is that Carrie will remain as captive puppet figurehead for another term (including implementation of BL Article 23 unfinished business).
For the bigger context, don’t miss this Quartz article on the first anniversary of the NatSec Law, describing the transformation in governance represented by rising security budgets, arrests, sentencing, censorship and other controls…
A new security structure now sits atop existing institutions, in many cases directly altering the institutions’ original functions and imposing a new priority upon them: upholding national security, as defined by Beijing.
…once you have a bureaucracy, the bureaucracy has to do things to justify its own existence,” said Ho-fung Hung, professor of political economy at Johns Hopkins University. The national security complex, he added, will target an endless list of enemies…
We could add that, in the punitive top-down PRC system, lower bureaucratic levels would rather overreact than try to be subtle. The recent banning of a Taiwanese documentary film suggests local officials so petrified when faced with NatSec enforcement duties that they use a sledgehammer on everything to be safe.
The NatSec ‘Law’ is not merely a law or a new focus on law and order. It is essentially the Mainlandization of Hong Kong’s government. The Mainland-staffed NatSec Office is above the law. It has extensions and annexes in the police, prosecutions, judiciary and now Chief Executive’s office, and is in effect a parallel government – Party commissars behind the scenes ensuring discipline and obedience throughout the subservient and more visible civil/state administrative structure (plus of course rubber-stamp legislature).
For masochists wanting exhaustive detail, Human Rights Watch releases a Hong Kong report: Beijing Dismantles a Free Society. And HKFP compiles a near-endless list of steps in the decline of press freedom in the city. (It can now add Stand News’ measures, like suspending opinion pieces, to protect writers and staff. I think they are also concerned about readers’ contributions – as perhaps we should all be.)