A district councillor in Hong Kong who publicly declared his refusal to help residents endorsing national security legislation has been warned he could be in breach of rules governing politicians’ conduct.
Lam Chun, 27, one of the many political novices to win a seat in the elections last November, is the fourth councillor cautioned by the government since taking office in January.
Riding on the momentum of months of the anti-government protests that erupted in Hong Kong last summer, the pro-democracy camp captured an unprecedented 392 of 452 seats, to control 17 out of 18 district councils in a crushing defeat for pro-establishment parties.
Writing on his Facebook page on March 15, Lam Chun, an independent representing Shui Wah constituency in Yuen Long, said he would not help members of the public who “support the legislation for Article 23”, adding his pledge would last forever “regardless the change of public opinion or under ‘white terror’”.
The Basic Law, Hong Kong’s mini-constitution, stipulates the city must enact its own national security law to “prohibit any act of treason, secession, sedition, subversion against the Central People’s Government”.
A proposal to implement the legislation was shelved in 2003 after tens of thousands of Hongkongers took to the streets in protest.
Lam Chun’s post echoed the same pledge made by another district councillor Wong Chun-yeung, who represents Tung Chung South in the Islands district.
Wong, 25, also an independent and a newly elected councillor, received the same warning letter last month.
The controversial Article 23 issue was stirred up again recently when pro-Beijing politician Junius Ho Kwan-yiu, also a lawmaker, set up street booths calling for the public to sign his petition urging the government to restart the legislative process.
Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor said on Tuesday the focus of the government was on fighting the coronavirus, although she added it was a pity the government had failed over 20 years to implement the legislation.
The Home Affairs Department issued a public statement on Saturday, saying it had sent a letter to Lam Chun after receiving a large number of complaints.
Calling his “discriminative treatment” to members of the public a “possible breach of the code of conduct for members of a district council”, it urged Lam Chun to be “aware of his words and deeds in order to avoid social conflict and disputes, and damage to community harmony”.
The department also said his act “may not be consistent” with the guiding principles of the remuneration package for councillors, which states public funds should be used in an open, fair and accountable manner.
It also referred the complaints to the chairman of Yuen Long District Council in the hope it would handle the case impartially.
The councillor snubbed the letter as “a form of suppression”.
“Society is already split. Those supporting me will support me, those do not, will not,” said Lam Chun, who was previously arrested for rioting during Polytechnic University siege last November, one of the most chaotic episodes of last year’s anti-government unrest.
“As an elected councillor, I think I am responsible for making my stance clear on such a sensitive issue,” he said.
Defending his Facebook message, the Yuen Long politician said he had never requested that residents asking him for assistance disclosed their political stance.
“The declaration I posted is just a gesture – as I want residents to know more about the significance of Article 23 legislation,” he said, adding he believed it was just a matter of time before the government rebooted the legislation.
Authorities also warned Sham Shui Po opposition district councillors Lee Man-ho and Lao Ka-hang after a sign was posted at their office reading “no blue ribbons and dogs allowed”, which was interpreted as an insult aimed at police and their supporters.
This article Hong Kong councillor warned for refusing to help Yuen Long residents who support national security law first appeared on South China Morning Post