Hong Kong’s democrats have slammed pro-Beijing figure Tam Yiu-chung for making a “blatant threat,” after he suggested that lawmakers and candidates who oppose China’s plan to promulgate national security legislation in the city should be disqualified.

In an article published in Bauhinia Magazine on Monday, Tam hailed the resolution – put forward by China’s parliament – to punish secession, subversion, terrorism and foreign interference in Hong Kong as a “constitutional, legal, reasonable and timely ” decision.

Tam Yiu-chung. File Photo: Holmes Chan/HKFP.

The member of Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress (NPC) said Hong Kong should enhance international publicity, to stop the proposed laws – which he saw as efforts to block legal loopholes – from being “vilified” globally. He called for improvement on the enforcement mechanism, to prevent the draft legislation from becoming a “toothless tiger” and urged citizens to “draw a clear line” against anti-China forces.

“For those who want to join Hong Kong’s establishment, whether it be lawmakers or candidates, [they] should not oppose legislation for national security. If these people raise opposition, it is violating the Basic Law, and [they] should be disqualified!,” he wrote.

Beijing’s unprecedented move to bypass local legislature to impose national security legislation has stunned democrats, civil society groups and trade partners, as such laws have been used broadly to silence and punish dissidents in China.

‘Infuriated’

Democratic Party lawmaker Lam Cheuk-ting said on Tuesday that he was “extremely infuriated” by Tam’s remark. He accused Tam of breaching Article 73 of the Basic Law, which stipulates that the Legislative Council has the power to enact, amend or repeal laws. Members of the legislature can have their own stance and freedom to decide their voting intentions.

Lam Cheuk-ting. Photo: Kelly Ho/HKFP.

“This is blatantly threatening current lawmakers and future candidates of the pro-democracy camp… trying to force them to kneel down to the pressure,” Lam said, adding that democrats would not back down.

Alvin Yeung, Kwok Ka-ki and Jeremy Tam of the Civic Party also slammed Tam’s comment as “intimidating” and “betraying” Hongkongers. Yeung questioned whether Tam wanted to get rid of opposition voices in the legislature, while Kwok said Tam has “added fuel to the flames.”

“[Tam’s comment] reveals his ambition for power, he just didn’t want to see any opposition voices, doesn’t want Hong Kong to continue being Hong Kong,” Yeung said.

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Kelly Ho

Kelly Ho has an interest in local politics, education and sports. She formerly worked at South China Morning Post Young Post, where she specialised in reporting on issues related to Hong Kong youth. She has a bachelor's degree in Journalism from the University of Hong Kong, with a second major in Politics and Public Administration.