Pro-Beijing Lawmaker: ‘Why Not?’ Have a Police State in Hong Kong
Pro-Beijing Hong Kong lawmaker Alice Mak said on Friday there is nothing wrong with the island becoming a “police state” because only authoritarian “discipline” can bring “security” after the massive protests of 2019.
Mak made her remarks to defend the promotions of two key figures in the brutal crackdown against democracy over the past year, Security Secretary John Lee and Police Commissioner Chris Tang.
Lee was promoted to chief secretary, the number two position in Hong Kong’s puppet government, while Tang will take Lee’s former position as security secretary. Lee will be the first chief secretary from a security background since China took possession of Hong Kong from the United Kingdom in 1997.
The United States sanctioned both Lee and Tang last summer for “fundamentally undermining Hong Kong’s autonomy and democratic processes” and “restricting the freedom of expression or assembly” of its citizens.
Both were charged with “coercing, arresting, detaining, or imprisoning individuals under the authority of the National Security Law” imposed by Beijing to crush the 2019 pro-democracy movement. Lee was also instrumental in pushing the extradition bill that touched off the 2019 uprising.
The promotions were an especially bitter pill for freedom activists to swallow only a day after the national security law was invoked to shut down the biggest pro-democracy newspaper in Hong Kong, Apple Daily. Lee infamously warned last week that anyone who worked for Apple Daily could be arrested for allegedly endangering national security.
“The promotion of John Lee and Chris Tang completes the swift and total transformation of Hong Kong into a police state,” Samuel Chu of the Hong Kong Democracy Council objected when the promotions were announced Friday.
“If it’s a police state, why not? I don’t think there’s any problem with a police state. When we say a police state, I will view the other side, that is the emphasis on security,” Mak responded.
“In the past our society has experienced severe threats from violent factions. So I think security is an issue in our society. So if someone from the police discipline can help to govern Hong Kong, can help to maintain law and order in Hong Kong, why not?” she said.
Other pro-Beijing lawmakers offered similar endorsements for Lee and Tang, arguing that Hong Kong was sliding into chaos before the national security law was imposed.
Current Chief Secretary Matthew Cheung is scheduled to retire, while Deputy Police Commissioner Raymond Siu will take Tang’s post as police commissioner.