By: Ng Kang-chung and Ambrose Leung
Human rights watchdogs and Falun Gong practitioners said yesterday they feared the anti-subversion laws could be used by Beijing to suppress groups it disapproves of in Hong Kong.
Concern groups also warned it was "criminalising speech" by seeking to outlaw publications that "incite offences that endanger national security".
Hong Kong Human Rights Monitor director Law Yuk-kai yesterday said the proposed laws were so vague they could easily be abused. "One could easily be caught for subversion if one opposes Mao Zedong Thought', which is a basic principle adopted by the Chinese Communist Party and is laid down in the constitution," said Mr Law.
The proposals define subversion as "to dis-establish the basic system of the state as established by the Chinese constitution".
"It is, in effect, allowing Chinese communist principles to be applied in Hong Kong," Mr Law added.
A spokesman for the Falun Gong [group] in Hong Kong, Kan Hung-cheung, voiced similar concerns. "It serves no purpose but to set up a formal channel for the Chinese Communist Party to extend its suppression of groups it dislikes to Hong Kong."
The mainland has branded Falun Gong [Jiang regimes slanderous words omitted] and outlawed it in 1999. Mr Kan said he was unsure about the group's future in Hong Kong if the subversion law was passed.
Under the proposals, a local political group will be banned if it is affiliated with an organisation outlawed on the mainland, on the grounds it would endanger national security.
"Hong Kong officials are very good at bowing to Beijing. The subversion law is only an excuse for them to justify their suppression against us," said Mr Kan, who maintained his group was an apolitical religious body.
The Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movement in China also expressed concern they could be straightjacketed by the laws. The alliance was labelled "subversive" by Beijing after the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre.
However, alliance chairman Szeto Wah said "we shall not change our ways just out of fear. We shall fight on." [
Hong Kong Christian Institute director Rose Wu Lo-sai also said the law could criminalise free speech and religious expression and criticism could be targeted.
Reacting to Chief Executive Tung Chee-hwa's comments that the proposed law was intended to safeguard national security, the pro-Taiwan Hong Kong and Kowloon Trade Union Council questioned whether "national security" could be easily defined.
"Our stance is to support the Kuomintang. Is this considered an offence of splitting up the nation?" asked chairman Lee Kwok-keung.
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