Changes to local national security law would not just copy HK security law – CE

Chief Executive Ho Iat Seng indicated today (Wednesday) that the local national security law has a margin for improvement but that any revision would not just follow the national security legislation recently enforced in Hong Kong.

“Of course there is space for improvements […] but we will not change it just because Hong Kong has its new national security law. We already have the law and we have perfected it. I don’t have anything to announce for [any future revision],” the Chief Executive said today before leaving for an official trip to Beijing.

Approved this year by the National People’s Congress Standing Committee, provided a legal framework in the SAR for crimes of secession, subversion, terrorism and collusion with foreign forces, which are now punishable by a maximum sentence of life in prison.

A new security office was also established in Hong Kong, with its own law enforcement personnel, neither of which would come under the local authority’s jurisdiction.

The Macau SAR introduced national security legislation in 2009 after a public and legal sector consultation process, with no infractions to the legislation reported until now.

Since then local authorities have introduced legislation to further strengthen the mechanisms for protecting national security, setting up a national security commission chaired by the Chief Executive in 2018 and amending the Judicial Organisation Framework Law so that all cases involving national security would only be tried by local judges of Chinese nationality.

In July of this year, Secretary for Administration and Justice André Cheong Weng Chon also indicated that the local government believes that there is a need to improve the city’s legal framework for safeguarding national security, however, no specific review has been proposed so far.

Chief Executive Ho Iat Seng was also questioned today on if he could see local authorities conducted a large scale police operation to a local media outlet like the one executed by Hong Kong authorities in the Apple Daily office building this week.

On Monday, media tycoon Jimmy Lau was detained by Hong Kong authorities over suspected collusion with foreign forces in what is the most high-profile arrest under the new national security law passed in June.

Almost 200 police searched Apple Daily’s office for nine hours, collecting 25 boxes of evidence and taking down the personal information of staff who returned to the office, according to the paper.

Ho Iat Seng only marked that he would not be able to do “such a direct comparison” between Macau and Hong Kong.

“There could be a situation in which the police has a court order […]. Any action undertaken would follow the local law,” he added.

Ho Iat Seng will lead an official Macau SAR delegation to Beijing from August 12 to 17 to discuss improved cooperation between Guangdong Province and the Macau SAR in developing Hengqin and controlling the Covid-19 pandemic.