Hong Kong’s Chief Executive Carrie Lam has said the government will prioritise restoring the city’s constitutional order and political system from chaos, as she again hailed the “remarkable” results of the Beijing-imposed national security law in her 2020 Policy Address.
For the first time during her term, Lam delivered the annual policy address in the Legislative Council (LegCo) on Wednesday without any protests from opposition lawmakers. Pro-democracy legislators were absent from the LegCo chamber after they collectively resigned earlier this month, in protest at the disqualification of four “unpatriotic” democrats by the Hong Kong government.
In her introductory remarks, Lam said Hong Kong had become a “gaping hole” in national security, which left the Central Government with “no alternative but to step in” to enact a national security law for Hong Kong.
Lam praised the results of the sweeping security law again, saying it has been “remarkably effective” in restoring stability in Hong Kong. She said the legislation – which outlaws secession, subversion, collusion with foreign forces and terrorism – led to pro-independence advocacy subsiding and prompted “radical organisations” to cease operation.
“Some of the prominent figures have kept a low profile… those who are suspected of violating the law have absconded, and street violence is significantly on the decline,” she said.
The Hong Kong leader said one of the pressing priorities of the government – among other policies laid out in her fourth and longest policy address yet — was to restore constitutional order and the city’s political system from “chaos.” She said some issues were “politically manipulated” as the society had an “inadequate understanding” of the constitution and the Basic Law .
“One of our urgent priorities is to restore HKSAR’s constitutional order and political system from chaos… ill-intentioned people influenced by external forces have made use of the relatively complicated social and political situation in Hong Kong to deliberately mislead the public about the relationship between the Central Government and the HKSAR,” Lam said.
‘Vision 2030 for Rule of Law’
Lam added that the government is drawing up plans to enhance national security education in the city, while the Department of Justice will implement a ten-year initiative called “Vision 2030 for Rule of Law” which includes educating the city’s youth on the “proper understanding” of the rule of law and prompting “law-abiding awareness.”
The city’s leader also mentioned that more than 2,300 people have been prosecuted in connection with the large-scale protests sparked off by the now-withdrawn extradition bill. She said police will consider handling arrested individuals who are under the age of 18 with “measures conducive to their rehabilitation as appropriate,” such as cautioning them under the Police Superintendent’s Discretion Scheme. The force may also consider imposing bind over orders, under the condition that the minors admit their wrongdoing.
Lam spoke for over two hours on Wednesday in order to deliver the address, which was around 24,000 words long.