Yet again, it has only taken a very short time for an official lie to be exposed. In this instance, it concerns the original justification for the imposition of the national security law (NSL) ,which was allegedly based on the need to stamp out violence and restore order to Hong Kong.

Now it is clear that the violence prevention narrative was a threadbare cover for what amounts to targeting just about anything that looks like protest, however peaceful.

What could be more peaceful and law abiding than a primary election to select candidates for the Legco polls in September?

legco elections
Voters line up to cast their ballots. File Photo: HKFP/Catherine Lai.

This event, drawing enormous public support, was however treated with extreme suspicion and dark official murmuring. Quick off the mark was Erick Tsang, the constitutional affairs secretary and Sycophant-in-Chief. “Surely this breaches the law,” he said as he polished the large ceramic plate portraying Xi Jinping, which has pride of place in his office.

Other Quislings were quick to follow, suggesting that voting amounted to a referendum, even a “black revolution”. It was not stated how or why, but never mind. It was clearly illegal.

Then, there were suggestions that the Legco primaries were being turned into a plot to paralyse the government, because if the democrats attained a majority they would block every official initiative.

What this cacophony of noise really amounted to was the laying of the grounds for disqualifying the candidacy of democrats.

legco may 27 national anthem bill
Photo: May James/HKFP.

And here lies the rub. What really provoked the rushed introduction of the draconian national security law was the imminence of the September polls, and the realisation that, given a free choice, the people of Hong Kong would vote for opposition candidates as they did in the democrat landslide at the District Council elections last year.

To stop this from happening required catch-all legislation that could swoop down and outlaw all forms of opposition, whether or not it was violent. From day one of the new law’s introduction, the anti-democrats were gleefully savouring the prospects of using it to outlaw opposition in the legislature, to ban rallies and political parties and, of course, to jail as many opposition figures as possible.

The enemies of democracy have, of course, never liked free and fair elections. That’s why they were so keen on the ill-fated scheme to introduce universal suffrage for electing the Chief Executive where the public would be offered a choice of candidates approved by Communist Party officials.

Admittedly, this is one step up from North Korea-style elections where the Party’s candidates secure 99.9 per cent of the vote. But then again, who on earth even believes that this process has any connection to a real election?

admiralty hong kong democracy occupy universal suffrage umbrella movement
File photo:

Meanwhile back in Hong Kong, the enemies of democracy have been busy conducting their own primaries for the pro-China camp candidates in the Legco election. This process is conducted in secret and behind the closed doors of the Central Liaison Office, where those seeking the blessing of Beijing obsequiously crawl to the front door begging for admission.

There had been some fanciful talk about the NSL being rushed through in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic crisis in the hope that attention would be so heavily focused on matters of life and death that the rest of the world would not notice.

This theory ignores the nasty shock that came as the results of the district elections poured in. Beijing ordered the rolling of heads and immediately set about coming up with a plan to avoid similar humiliation in September. This is the real explanation for the rush to put the NSL in place.

national security law
File photo: Tom Grundy/HKFP.

And, by the by, the world was not too preoccupied to notice what was happening, indeed the global fallout has been on an unprecedented scale.

There is still some paper-thin pretence that the NSL is all about combating violence. But while this facade is maintained, the Quislings can’t help themselves as they evoke its presence to call for the outlawing of more or less everything they don’t like; their list of such things is long.

And they have become less and less concerned over employing bare-faced mendacity. Remember that other really urgent thing that provoked the need for the illfated extradition law amendment? Carrie Lam kept banging on about how it was needed to give justice to the family of Poon Hiu-wing, allegedly murdered by her boyfriend Chan Tong-kai in Taiwan.

What happened to that urgency? The Hong Kong government has refused to send Chan back to Taiwan to face trial and he remains a free man in the HKSAR.

So, let’s wait and see what comes up next on the government’s “urgent” list. The only sure bet is that it will not be anything good.

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Stephen Vines is a journalist, writer and broadcaster and ran companies in the food sector. He left Hong Kong with great reluctance in July 2021 following the crackdown on freedom of expression. Prior to departure he had been the host of the RTHK television current affairs programme ‘The Pulse’, a columnist for ‘Apple Daily’ and a contributor to other outlets. He continues to be a columnist for ‘HKFP’. Vines was the founding editor of 'Eastern Express' and founding publisher of 'Spike'. In London he was an editor at The Observer and in Asia has worked for international publications including, the Guardian, Daily Telegraph, BBC, Asia Times and The Independent and, during Hong Kong’s 2019/20 protests, for the Sunday Times. Vines is the author of several books, the latest being Defying the Dragon – Hong Kong and Worlds’ Biggest Dictatorship