Keywords and ‘made-simple’ Summary of the National Security
A new section is proposed to be added to the Societies Ordinance 社團條例 to empower the Secretary for Security to proscribe certain organisations 取締某些組織 that are regarded as endangering national security.
This is one of the most controversial areas and has sparked concerns from legal sector, the Church, and organisations like Falun Gong and Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Democratic Movements in China, although the government has said this power could only be exercised where it is necessary and proportionate, and under the following circumstances –
a) the objective, or one of the objectives, of the organisation is to engage in acts of treason, secession, sedition, subversion or spying;
b) the organisation has committed or is attempting to commit acts of treason, secession, sedition, subversion, or spying; or
c) the organisation is subordinate to a mainland organisation which has been prohibited in the mainland by Central Authorities, by means of an open decree and in accordance with the national law on the ground of protecting the security of the People’s Republic of China.
A local organisation would be subordinate to a mainland organisation only if the former accepts substantial financial contributions from, is directed or controlled by, or has its policies determined by, a mainland organisation. It will also be an offence to support or organise activities for a proscribed organisation.
If a proscribed organisation is a registered company, it is proposed that the company should be wound up, on application by the Registrar of Companies to the Court of First Instance.
People can challenge the decision of the Secretary for Security and appeal to the Court of First Instance, according to the proposed law.
But according to the government proposals, the Secretary for Security will make rules governing the proceedings of such appeals. And that the Court of First Instance may hold proceedings in the absence of any person, including the appellant and any legal representative appointed by him.
The administration argued that if the existence and identity of the undercover agent, and the extent of the intelligence gathered on the mainland organisation were revealed to the local organisation and its lawyers, this might seriously prejudice ongoing investigations into activities that endanger national security.
Legislators from the Democratic Party, Margaret Ng and Audrey Eu have indicated that they will submit their committee stage amendments. We shall look into some of their amendments in our next issue.
Note: Credit is due to the Hon Bernard Chan for sharing these information with me.