101 East

Hong Kong: Candle in the Wind

A year after Hong Kong introduced a draconian security law, 101 East meets the activists who refuse to be silenced.

In Hong Kong, dissent has become a dangerous business. Activists have been jailed and many opposition politicians have been imprisoned and are facing criminal charges.

As the political crackdown intensifies, 101 East follows three Hong Kongers who refuse to be silenced, despite the risks.

Hong Kong Chief Secretary for Administration John Lee Ka-chiu declined 101 East’s invitation to appear in this film, but did offer the following statement:

“Hong Kong residents enjoy the freedoms of assembly, of procession and of demonstration as well as other rights and freedoms protected under the Basic Law. However, such rights and freedoms are not absolute and may be subject to restrictions as prescribed by law and in the interests of, amongst others, national security, public order (ordre public) and the protection of the rights and freedoms of others.

In this regard, it should be pointed out that safeguarding national sovereignty, security and development interests is an indisputable duty of a responsible national in all countries and places around the world. The Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) is no exception. The Hong Kong National Security Law (NSL) aims to prevent, suppress and punish acts and activities endangering national security. That notwithstanding, the NSL upholds human rights in safeguarding national security in the HKSAR, clearly stipulating that the rights and freedoms enjoyed by residents under the Basic Law and the provisions of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights as applied to Hong Kong, shall be protected in accordance with the law. Freedoms of speech and of publication are among the rights and freedoms explicitly mentioned in Article 4 of the NSL.

Public health is the paramount consideration for epidemic control in Hong Kong. The COVID-19 pandemic remains severe and the number of cases including mutant strains around the world is rising continuously. We should not let our guard down. It is essential for us to take all necessary measures to strengthen epidemic control by guarding against the importation of cases and the resurgence of domestic infections. As such, there is a need for the Government to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the community through the continued implementation of various social distancing measures. To protect public health, we do not recommend the organisation of mass gatherings involving a large number of people with prolonged duration of contact, and where there would be difficulty in controlling the crowd size and ensuring adequate social distancing among participants. The effectiveness of this approach can be seen in the fact that Hong Kong has not had to implement prolonged city-wide lockdowns seen elsewhere, and that we have not had any local transmission cases for more than a month. To suggest that other reasons are behind this anti-epidemic policy during a global health crisis does not stand up to any scrutiny.

The Police have been handling and will continue to handle notifications for public meetings and public processions in accordance with the law.”