Okay, that’s enough. 

Now that we finally have a state-imposed national security law protecting us from unprincipled knaves who flout the Basic Law for their own selfish interests and aim to undermine and ultimately destroy the One Country, Two Systems framework that makes Hong Kong such a special international city, it’s time to call out the worst offenders.

Chief Executive Carrie Lam taking oath in the presence of Chinese President Xi Jinping on July 1, 2017. File Photo: GovHK.

This is done with the hope that the newly formed Committee for Safeguarding National Security will immediately take up their cases and arrests and prosecutions can then proceed expeditiously. 

Lamentably, the two most egregious transgressors of the new law to date sit or recently sat at the highest level of the Hong Kong government: Chief Executive Carrie Lam, who as chair of the national security committee will be expected to investigate herself, and her immediate predecessor, Leung Chun-ying.

Yes, I understand the perks and privileges of high office, but total disregard of the city’s mini-constitution and the One Country, Two Systems arrangement is not one them. 

Subversion is subversion, no matter the perpetrator. The rule of law applies to all, high and low. Lam and Leung must be held to account. 

Carrie Lam and Leung Chun-ying. File Photo: GovHK.

Let’s first examine the case against Leung, since he has been so brazenly free lately about accusing others, especially pan-democratic lawmakers, of violating the new law. Actually, Leung is very fortunate that the legislation was not made retroactive as, if that were the case, he would almost certainly be subject to its harshest penalty – life imprisonment – for having committed just about every violation it delineates: secession, subversion, terrorism, collusion – you name it, he did it.

Let us recall that no mature, thinking adult in Hong Kong had ever thought about, let alone called for, the city to declare its independence from China before Leung broached the subject in January of 2015.

Subsequently, no doubt because of Leung’s irresistible charm and soaring popularity at the time, a theretofore virtually unknown book on the topic – published by the University of Hong Kong student union’s official magazine, Undergrad – started selling like hotcakes. 

File Photo: HKU Undergrad magazine

A second edition of the book, titled Hong Kong Nationalism, was rushed to print, and Hong Kong independence soon became, thanks to Leung’s initiative, the talk of the town. 

Secession? You bet! Let’s bundle him across the border for some intense mainland-style interrogation. Actually, no need for that as mainland agents are now free to operate in Hong Kong – we just don’t know where! 

As for Leung’s other offences under the new law, it was crystal clear from his first to his last day as chief executive that his primary intention was to do everything in his power to subvert the Basic Law and the One Country, Two Systems principle in order to turn Hong Kong into a second-class city indistinguishable from any other megalopolis on mainland China. 

And it can certainly be argued that his persistently bellicose nature and belligerent brand of politics played a big part in terrorising the city into the deeply entrenched, enmity-fuelled divisions that continue to cripple our progress today. 

Finally, as far as we know, Leung did not collude with any foreign governments, but do foreign companies also count? The HK$50 million he pocketed from Australian engineering firm UGL was pretty sweet! 

Leung Chun-ying. Photo: HKFP.

Once Leung left the Governor’s House, the blatant subversion of the Basic Law and One Country, Two Systems has only continued – indeed accelerated – under Lam’s watch. Indeed, things have been so bad that it’s time for this writer to remove tongue from cheek and insert that same organ between pursed lips while blowing very hard.

Lam’s extradition proposal – as well as her blindly obdurate response to the six months of full-on, anti-government protests it provoked – was the biggest betrayal of Hong Kong in all of the 23 years that have passed since the 1997 handover from British to Chinese sovereignty.

And these protests would still be raging today if Covid-19 hadn’t seized Hong Kong, prohibiting large public gatherings and forcing everyone indoors.  

Photo: May James/HKFP.

Even worse, once it was apparent that the city had turned against her and she was otherwise bereft of support, Lam turned the Hong Kong Police Force, once regarded as “Asia’s finest,” into her own private army and the last line of defence for her illegitimate administration. 

It’s fair to say that many Hongkongers, especially young ones who like to speak their minds and fight for the core freedoms they once thought they were guaranteed, now regard the police with abhorrence and – yes, it’s not an exaggeration – terror. 

There is a reason we now have a national security law written and passed on the mainland without even a soupçon of local legislative input: Lam trampled on the city’s constitutional charter and the One Country, Two Systems blueprint, and consequently lost control of the people she was charged to serve, forcing Beijing to step in and take over Hong Kong. 

For many Hongkongers, this is the true terror and state subversion that has taken place in their city over the past year.

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Kent Ewing

Kent Ewing is a teacher and writer who has lived in Hong Kong for more than two decades. He has written for the pre-Alibaba South China Morning Post, The Standard, Asia Times and Asia Sentinel. Allegations to the contrary, he insists he is not a colonial fossil. Follow him on Twitter.