A NatSec-heavy Friday

DJ-activist Tam Tak-chi loses his appeal against his 2022 sedition conviction. From AFP…

The sedition offence, formerly a little-used relic of Hong Kong’s British colonial era, was dusted off as Beijing launched a crackdown on dissent in the financial hub following 2019’s democracy protests.

It was used to convict radio DJ and democracy activist Tam Tak-chi in 2022 in the first sedition trial since the 1997 handover of Hong Kong to China. He was sentenced to 40 months in jail for over 11 offences, including seven counts of “uttering seditious words”.

Judges rejected Tam’s appeal Thursday, ruling it was unnecessary to prove intention to incite violence to convict a defendant of sedition.

“Modern experiences show that seditious acts or activities endangering national security now take many diversified forms,” they said in a written judgment.

Such as… wearing T-shirts? Did the words people utter really shift suddenly in 2019, compared with 2015, or 1995? Or was it the ruling power’s level of tolerance that changed?

This comes just months after the UK’s Privy Council ruled on a case from Commonwealth state Trinidad and Tobago that sedition must include an intention to incite violence or disorder… 

Hong Kong High Court Chief Justice Jeremy Poon said Thursday the court “has reservations” on whether the Privy Council ruling is applicable.

“Seditious intention in any given criminal code must be interpreted by reference to the specific legal and social landscape in which it exists,” he said.

The 1920s sedition law was barely used up to 2022, since when it has been used to charge various individuals and media outlets, Alvin Lum adds

The court said the proof of intention to incite violence will be against the sedition law’s legislative intent, and went on to back the very ruling that criminalise Ta Kung Pai’s editors in the 1950’s.

FWIW, the TKP editors were fined and order to suspend TKP was rescinded.

Takeaway: not only this ruling will have direct bearing on pending sedition trials like Stand News case, the judges have gone at length at each possible argument against sedition, which might even make it difficult for the top court to read down/in the offence.

And the Article 23 NatSec Law looks likely to be introduced in the legislature today. As part of it, the government might extend the 48-hour period for which people arrested on NatSec charges can be detained by an additional 14 days. It looks like the authorities will also be able to bar certain lawyers from representing accused. A ‘public interest’ defence for revealing state secrets would come with an ‘extremely high threshold where the safety of a large number of people could be endangered unless a state secret is divulged’. The Justice Secretary also says that priests should ideally report acts of treason mentioned during parishioners’ confessions. (Don’t say you weren’t warned. Anyway, is treason necessarily a sin?)

Proof that the government can listen to public opinion: officials apparently backtrack on the Gigantic Patriotic Museum-Reshuffle.

Some weekend reading…

An SCMP op-ed suggests ditching the Lantau artificial islands reclamation…

A white elephant that is stillborn would cost far less than one that dies fully grown.

As the project stands, seldom has so colossal, costly and complex a scheme come with such shoddy analysis, unproven assumptions and slogan-driven publicity akin to real estate marketing. Since the government announced the initial version of the project in 2014, it has focused on a handful of numbers – the area to be reclaimed, the number of residents – plus a proposed central business district.

…East Lantau Metropolis was apparently intended to drive the development of Lantau, while Lantau Tomorrow Vision was to help integrate Hong Kong further into the Greater Bay Area. The Kau Yi Chau project is now marketed as an extension of western Hong Kong Island that would form a harbour metropolis. This is as good as selling the same drink in three different bottles, as beer, wine and champagne.

Constructing 1,000 hectares of land for 500,000 residents in the middle of the sea, connected only by a tunnel to Hong Kong Island 4km away, should be a non-starter conceptually. 

A WSJ op-ed casts doubt on Beijing’s official economic growth figures…

How does China grow 5% despite so many headwinds, from collapsing property investment to declining population? Very likely, it doesn’t. Actual growth is probably slower, perhaps a lot slower.

…China routinely revises down previous years’ indicators, making current-year growth look stronger, without revising down earlier growth. In December, the NBS revised down the level of nominal GDP in 2022 by 0.5%, which served to boost growth in 2023, yet it kept growth for 2022 at 3%.

…China’s data quality is still subpar. Relative to other countries, GDP comes out uncommonly fast yet is hardly ever revised and lacks basic information such as quarterly consumer, business and government expenditure, said Gian Maria Milesi-Ferretti, who oversaw the International Monetary Fund’s World Economic Outlook and is now at the Brookings Institution. “The statistical standards are not up to the level they ought to be,” he said. 

The Philippines Defense Dept calls China’s actions in the South China Sea ‘patently illegal and downright uncivilized’.

This entry was posted in Blog. Bookmark the permalink.

11 Responses to A NatSec-heavy Friday

  1. Packing says:

    Well they finally published the proposed law (the consultation document was obviously a sham/bait’n’switch).
    Where they say it’s all modelled on the UK and US NatSec laws, I don’t know about that. It becomes a crime (with extra-territorial application) to incite disaffection in basically anyone – obviously the head honchos, that’s fair enough and normal I suppose, but also the Ombudsman, any civil servant, anyone working ICAC, any ExCo member (y’all better lay off Regina…), any legislator or even those useless new district councillors. Calling on them to resign now becomes a crime. And holding documents pertaining to these also becomes a crime (goodbye Data Centres!)
    It’s all very disturbing. Oh they can also use reasonable force to stop any vehicle, aircraft, vessel to “obliterate” any so-called seditious publication. Did not see that in the public consultation document.

  2. Chinese Netizen says:

    WSJ: “How does China grow 5% despite so many headwinds, from collapsing property investment to declining population? Very likely, it doesn’t. Actual growth is probably slower, perhaps a lot slower.”

    We’ll never know because they’re…state secrets.

    “And the Article 23 NatSec Law looks likely to be introduced in the legislature today.” Ah the old Friday afternoon news release that everyone can mull over on the weekend.

  3. Asia's World Pity says:

    As bathwater speeds up as it gets closer to spiralling down the drain, so, too, do the spirit and soul of Hong Kong.

  4. Low Profile says:

    The government is constantly assuring us that the NatSec Law and Article 23 are no different in essence from similar laws in effect in the US and UK. However, this does not take into account the widely differing degrees of heavy-handedness with which such laws are applied.

  5. Mark Bradley says:

    “The government is constantly assuring us that the NatSec Law and Article 23 are no different in essence from similar laws in effect in the US and UK. ”

    This is and always was false equivalency propagated by a bunch of cynical cunts either in the HK government or more likely the liaison office. Sedition isn’t even a law anymore in UK and the national security laws in both US and UK are written far more narrowly than this broadly written “catch all” law that Article 23 is that essentially ensures any form of criticism against the government is a national security crime and that even economic data can be considered a state secret if need be.

  6. wmjp says:

    Wow, such enthusiasm and efficiency! Most of the morning taken up with picture-taking and meeting the press AND they managed to get through first and second readings of the bill before a well-deserved lunch (on the taxpayer probably).
    Have any of these “lawmakers” actually read the thing?

  7. Still packing says:

    I’m watching the Bills Committee this afternoon with great amusement.
    They all started with such enthusiasm. One said “we will work weekends, we will work at night if required”.
    And then they started the “line by line” analysis. And the nit-picking began. A couple raised issues with the title, should it be “legal system” not “law”? Should the word “persons” or “people” be used in the preamble? This took about an hour in total.. and then they got to the definition page, whether “central authorities” includes the CCP…. at this point, the Keen Bean who’d said they should work all night stuck his hand up and said “do we really need to go through all these definitions, because it will take a great deal of time if we do” lol.
    It’s like the story of the scorpion getting a ride across the river on the dog’s back. It’s in lawmakers’ nature to nitpick and hear the sound of their own voices. Hence, the line-by-line analysis is going to take weeks at this rate. They can’t help themselves. Although I’m sure they’ll speed up once they think the world’s press has stopped watching and they’ve got enough brownie points for asking “tough questions”.

  8. steve says:

    The SCMP’s “bravery” in criticizing the Lantau scheme indicates that the government is ready to deep six this boondoggle and that the damned thing officially and quietly will be toast in the not too distant future. After all, it was Carrie Lam’s project, and it’s officially okay to throw her under the bus, in advance of her existence being erased altogether from the official memory.

  9. Chinese Netizen says:

    “One said “we will work weekends, we will work at night if required”.” (notice the caveat “IF REQUIRED”. So selfless…so brave)

    Winston Churchill would have been proud.

  10. Mary Melville says:

    Note that when the Leggers line up for the ra ra foto ops the old hands are always to the fore. Either the oldies are under more pressure to prove their obsequity or the fact that apart from high profilers like Doreen and Gary, and the online followers of the extreme angle jawed Joephy – the image on her FB banner has been ‘enhanced’ – nobody has a clue who the majority of the 50 odd newbies are and whom or what they represent.

  11. Joe Blow says:

    Jack Bennett parted the bead curtain with one hand and peeked inside. The place was
    dark with only a few scattered customers.
    “Hello Joe”, a husky voice said out of nowhere, “you come and have a drink in
    my bar”. Bennett looked into a pair of almond shaped doe eyes. They were
    inscrutable yet inviting. He stepped forward.
    He had never been in the Plum Blossom Lounge before. The barman served
    his whisky on the rocks. A glitterball slowly rotated on the ceiling. The sign of
    a classy joint, he thought. They even mixed the nuts.
    “Hey Joe, you buy me drink, huh ?” the husky voice with the big brown eyes
    asked. There she was again, standing next to him, wearing a cheong-sam
    with a slit that went all the way up. Before he could answer she ran a delicate finger
    over the short sleeve of his new safari. “Nice suit, Joe”.
    Jack Bennett had heard numerous sailors’ tales about the anatomical
    peculiarities of Chinese wimmin. But a prominent Adam’s apple was not one of
    them. Bambi drew her finger teasingly over his hairy, manly arm, past the digital
    watch with 5 functions and it came to rest on his upper leg.
    “Oh, you so man” she whispered breathlessly.
    You too, honey, Jack Bennett thought.
    “Can I make friend with you?” she enquired while looking at her watch. Time was money. “Mei Ling make love to you long time…….”
    (to be continue…)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *