《TAIPEI TIMES》 New law gives HK police sweeping powers
Pedestrians walk past security cameras mounted on a pole, center, on Hennessy Road in Hong Kong’s Causeway Bay District yesterday. Photo: Bloomberg
/ The Guardian and AP, HONG KONG
Hong Kong police have been granted sweeping new powers, including the ability to conduct raids without a warrant and secretly monitor suspects, after controversial security laws were imposed on the territory by the Chinese government.
The powers allow for the confiscation of property related to national security offenses, allow senior police to order the takedown of online material they believe breaches the law, and grant police permission to intercept communications and conduct covert surveillance.
They also allow police to enter and search premises for evidence without a warrant “under exceptional circumstances,” to restrict people under investigation from leaving Hong Kong, and to demand information from foreign and Taiwanese political organizations and agents on their Hong Kong-related activities.
The details of the implementation rules took effect yesterday and details were released after the Committee for Safeguarding National Security of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, chaired by Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam （林鄭月娥）, convened its first meeting on Monday.
Before the release of the implementation rules, Facebook, WhatsApp and Telegram said they would deny law enforcement requests for user data in Hong Kong as they assess the effect of the national security legislation.
Lam told “radicals,” who she said had brought danger to the country, “not to challenge the law or the consequences would be serious... If people are law-abiding and never think about endangering national security, there is no cause for concern ever.”
Asked about widespread concerns among local and foreign media that the laws put them at risk by criminalizing acts of journalism, Lam said it was “not a question of me giving a guarantee on what you may or may not do.”
“If [the Hong Kong Foreign Correspondents’ Club] or reporters in Hong Kong can give me 100 percent guarantee that they will not commit offenses under this legislation, then I can do this,” she said.
She accused foreign press and governments of stoking fear, saying the new laws were “not doom and gloom,” and she had not noticed fear among residents.
“This law only targets four types of urgent matters,” she said repeatedly. “It does not undermine the rights and freedoms of people in Hong Kong.”
The day before, eight people were arrested at a silent protest where demonstrators held up blank pieces of paper at the Kwun Tong shopping mall.
They were protesting against the outlawing of pro-independence slogans, including “Liberate Hong Kong, the revolution of our time.”
The official Procuratorial Daily yesterday announced that China had launched a special task force to increase political policing to maintain social stability on the mainland.
The task force would “crack down on all kinds of infiltration, subversion, sabotage, violent terrorist activities, ethnic separatist activities and extreme religious activities,” according to the undated notes from a meeting of the task force published in the paper on Monday.