Hong Kong’s anti-corruption body has investigated a pro-democracy district councillor after he vowed to refuse assistance to citizens who support the enactment of the Article 23 national security law, the politician revealed in a Facebook post.

The Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) staff questioned Islands District Council member Wong Chun-yeung on Wednesday about his Facebook comments in March. He said he came to the decision because of his “conscience.”

Wong Chun-yeung. Photo: Wong Chun-yeung/Facebook.

Article 23 of the Basic Law stipulates that the Hong Kong government shall enact laws on its own to prohibit any act of treason, secession, sedition, subversion against the central government. Its legislation this year – failed in 2003 following mass protests.

But with the onset of the anti-extradition law protests last year, and the months of citywide unrest that followed, Beijing imposed security legislation upon Hong Kong without local legislative oversight. It criminalises a range of acts including separatism and disruption to transportation as well as other infrastructure.

Wong wrote in a Facebook post on Thursday that the ICAC probe meant he had to cancel a street stall inviting members of the public to write mid-Autumn festival postcards to 12 Hong Kong activists detained in mainland China. The fugitives – including one charged with violating the security law – were intercepted by Guangdong marine police while attempting to flee to Taiwan on a speedboat.

“Some residents asked if the ICAC and the government were deliberately oppressing district councillors and creating white terror,” he wrote.

He added that if Article 23 supporters approached him with public interest concerns such as gambling in the community – an issue he has sought to tackle – he would still “follow up.”

“Although the law does not state that ICAC investigations should be confidential, Ah Yeung [Wong] will still comply with the two officers’ suggestions and not reveal key details about the case.”

A banner against Article 23 security law. Photo: HKFP/Ellie Ng.

Speaking to HKFP on the phone, the district councillor said he revealed the ICAC probe on social media to ease public concerns over the investigation.

In a statement, a spokesperson for the ICAC declined to comment on remarks made by individuals: “It is the ICAC’s statutory duty to investigate all pursuable corruption complaints in accordance with the law and established procedures upon receipt of them,” they told HKFP.

Previously, a spokesperson for the Hong Affairs Department blasted Wong’s behaviour as discriminatory towards members of the public with different opinions: “[This] will only divide our society, and is contradictory to the spirit of community building and public engagement in community affairs.”

The department had received a large number of complaint emails and letters against the district councillor due to the post, they said, which could have breached the Code of Conduct for Members of a District Council or Its Committees (Code of Conduct).

Additional reporting: Rachel Wong

Update 28.9.20: this article was updated to include a comment from the ICAC spokesperson.

Jennifer Creery

Jennifer Creery is a Hong Kong-born British journalist, interested in minority rights and urban planning. She holds a BA in English at King's College London and has studied Mandarin at National Taiwan University.