Outgoing Legislative Council president Jasper Tsang Yok-sing has said that he has not heard about the possibility of a move by the National People’s Congress (NPC) to ban calls for independence in Hong Kong.

A report from Reuters cited sources in government and those with close ties to Beijing as saying that the NPC “might invoke its right to interpret Hong Kong’s Basic Law… to explicitly outlaw discussions of independence” and that the body “might over-rule a finding in favor of the activists by Hong Kong’s highest court.”

“I haven’t heard about it – unless there was a clear message, it would be difficult for me to comment. I haven’t heard about such a message,” said Tsang, a long-time Beijing loyalist, in response to questions from reporters. “As far as I know, the Standing Committee of the NPC is very careful in interpreting the Basic Law. You can see that they have not been interpreting it at will since the handover.”

Jasper Tsang Yok-sing. File Photo: Stand News.

“The central government also knows it will cause great concern in Hong Kong by using this interpretation mechanism. So I do not believe that the NPC interpretation would be conducted carelessly.”

He added that people should not make wild guesses until there is confirmed information.

Chief Executive run

Tsang has retired from the Legislative Council. But he said he may run for the Chief Executive position if no one runs in the election other than sitting Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying.

Former government minister Michael Suen Ming-yeung said in a newspaper column on Wednesday that former Financial Secretary Antony Leung Kam-chung has formed a team to run, whilst sitting Financial Secretary John Tsang Chun-wah was still considering. As his team consisted mostly of civil servants, they would not resign to join his campaign team, wrote Suen.

Antony Leung Kam-chung. File Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

Suen urged those who want to run to state their intentions this month. Delaying announcements further may give Leung Chun-ying an advantage, increasing his chances of re-election, he said.

Asked about Suen’s statements, Jasper Tsang said: “Did Mr Suen say which central government department he was representing when making this statement? I don’t know about that.”

Tsang said that it was not necessary to state an intention to run so soon, and that his stance on running has not changed.

Tsang said it was a “big hypothetical question” if he would decide not to run after Antony Leung launches his election campaign. He added that the public should look at candidates’ platforms and consider whether they have enough support from election committee members.

Kris Cheng

Kris Cheng is a Hong Kong journalist with an interest in local politics. His work has been featured in Washington Post, Public Radio International, Hong Kong Economic Times and others. He has a BSSc in Sociology from the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Kris is HKFP's Editorial Director.