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HK industries call for declaration of state emergency to quell riots

Global Times

By Chen Qingqing and Wang Wenwen in Hong Kong Source:Global Times Published: 2019/8/28 22:58:40

Article 18 expected to restore order: HK industries

While some Hongkongers, devastated by the ongoing social unrest, have urged the central government and the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) government to declare that Hong Kong is in a state of emergency and to apply relevant national laws in the city, the chief executive of HKSAR reiterated the government is still in control of the situation.

Experts warned that the HKSAR government should be cautious about introducing national laws under Article 18 of the Basic Law.

Representatives from sectors such as tourism, catering and transportation, launched the "I want to eat" campaign outside the government complex on Tuesday afternoon, calling for the government to stop violence, restore order and rebuild the economy as soon as possible.

They also sent a letter to Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor, saying the social unrest of nearly three months has led to unemployment. "We, as ordinary Hong Kong residents, still firmly believe in 'one country, two systems,' but excessive freedom has become the hotbed for secessionism."

"Secessionists fight against the government with offensive weapons, if we continue to tolerate it, Hongkongers will have no way to make a living," the letter said.

Dicky Yip, deputy director of the Federation of Hong Kong & Kowloon Labor Unions who participated in the campaign, told the Global Times that 90 percent of tour guides in his travel agency earn zero salary and many vehicles were just "sitting idle in the sun."

A hotel room, which used to cost HK$1,000 per night can now be booked for only HK$100. The travel agency has not had a single group booking for September so far. Yip calculated that around 240,000 people in the tourism sector have been affected.

That prompted Yip and his colleagues to appeal to the government on Tuesday that tourism workers need to work so that they have money for food. He also hopes that the chief executive can exercise her right and be tougher on restoring peace in Hong Kong.

The letter highlighted two requests: One is urging the HKSAR government to introduce Article 18 of the Basic Law and national laws to stop the violent riots, and arrested protesters could be sent to mainland courts for trial, which will help the government to restore social order; The other is to instruct Hong Kong police to use necessary force to restrain rioters and stop the mob through all legally feasible measures.

Yip also noted introducing Article 18 is very necessary now, as it is the most effective way to deal with rioters.

Article 18 of the Basic Law stipulates that, "In the event that the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress decides to declare a state of war or, by reason of turmoil within the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region which endangers national unity or security and is beyond the control of the government of the region, decides that the region is in a state of emergency, the Central People's Government may issue an order applying the relevant national laws in the region."

"I come to pick up this petition because riots triggered by anti-government forces have seriously hurt Hong Kong, so how should we respond? It's still at the stage of exploration, but now it has become more urgent to restore social order," Junius Ho Kwan-yiu, Hong Kong legislator, said during the campaign.

This letter suggests the use of Article 18 of the Basic Law to deal with the riots, it means some national laws can be applied in Hong Kong, including the National Security Law, Counter-terrorism Law, the Law on the People's Armed Police Force, Ho noted.

"Applying Article 18 does not mean the failure of the 'one country, two systems' policy, but guarantees the future of the policy to ensure the city will return to normality as soon as possible," the legislator said.

However, analysts remain cautious about whether now is the time to apply such law.

Tian Feilong, director of the Chinese Association of Hong Kong and Macao Studies, told the Global Times that the reason some people want Article 18 implemented is because they are pessimistic about the endless and evolving violence in Hong Kong as rioters keep challenging the rule of law and provoking police without limits and they hope the central government can solve the problems.

Tian ruled out the possibility of using Article 18, noting that it is the last option. But the call for the use of Article 18 has served as a reminder that some people have become exhausted, according to Tian.

"Therefore, the central government should strictly support and supervise the law enforcement of the Hong Kong government and police and promote self-governing to solve the current dilemma," Tian told the Global Times.

Tian noted that the Hong Kong government has yet to exercise many of its legal rights such as the Public Order Ordinance and the chief executive enacting martial law in designated areas.

Police should also raise their level of deterrence and their control capability so that they can maintain the rule of law and protect citizens, Tian said, adding that the government and the whole community should support police in law enforcement to stop the violence.

When asked whether the Hong Kong government would use the Emergency Regulations Ordinance to curb protests, Chief Executive Carrie Lam responded earlier on Tuesday saying, "All of Hong Kong's laws, if they can provide a rule of law measure to stop violence and chaos, the government has the responsibility to examine them."

Meanwhile, she emphasized that the current situation is still under control, as the HKSAR government is supporting the law enforcement bodies and acting responsibly.



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