The government’s Executive Council has officially upheld a ban on the pro-independence Hong Kong National party, having rejected its appeal.

Last September, the embattled political group was banned by the government, citing the Societies Ordinance on the grounds of national security. It remains the first party to have been banned under the ordinance since the 1997 Handover.

Andy Chan
Andy Chan. Photo: Kris Cheng/HKFP.

Its co-founder Andy Chan presented his case to a committee formed by Executive Council members last month at a closed-door meeting at government headquarters. Chief Executive Carrie Lam was reportedly present at the appeal.

‘Public safety’

In a three-page letter dated February 21, Chan was informed that the chief executive and her cabinet had upheld the ban on national security and public safety grounds: “The evidence shows that the actions of the HKNP did not stop at thoughts (or opinions) and words; it has actively and persistently pursued the independence of Hong Kong by taking different actions,” the letter read.

The Executive Council also said that “there is no reasonable guarantee that the HKNP would not resort to violence or advocate violence.”

The letter described one of HKNP’s goals as “the establishment of a free and independent ‘Republic of Hong Kong,’” which the Executive Council found to be unconstitutional.

Chan had raised six issues of procedural unfairness but all were dismissed.

Hong Kong National Party
Hong Kong National Party’s Andy Chan and Jason Chow at a street booth. Photo: Facebook/Hong Kong National Party.

Chan could now file a judicial review to challenge the council’s decision. But he told reporters late on Thursday that he needed to consult his lawyers before deciding on the next move.

Under the Societies Ordinance, anyone who manages or assists in the management of an unlawful society may be subject to a HK$100,000 fine and three years in prison.

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.