Hong Kong’s leader on Tuesday said mainland authorities had not notified her about any of the city’s residents being detained or arrested and would not comment on “unsubstantiated allegations” made earlier by the localist Demosisto party.
Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor was responding to claims made on Monday by Demosisto founder Joshua Wong Chi-fung, who said two of its members were detained by state police on the mainland.
It said they were interrogated for hours about their views on Tibetan independence, the 2014 Occupy movement for greater democracy, and their links to the group.
Lam, before meeting the Executive Council on Tuesday, remarked: “All the details were provided unilaterally by one side, even without the affected people appearing to substantiate their claims or allegations.”
As a matter of principle, Hongkongers should respect laws in other jurisdictions, she said.
But there was “absolutely no question” that any law enforcement agency outside Hong Kong could enforce laws in the city.
“The Hong Kong law enforcement agencies are the only authorised institutions to enforce the law in Hong Kong,” she said.
Lam also pointed to last year’s cross-border agreement between police forces to let each other know, when they arrest or detain residents from the other’s jurisdiction.
“If there are Hong Kong people being detained or arrested for criminal offences, we will receive notification, in this case we haven’t received any notification.”
The alleged detentions, which Wong said happened in March and August, have sparked concerns that Chinese security services are trying to silence the city’s activists through intimidation.
Law Yuk-kai, the director of the Hong Kong Human Rights Monitor, called the chief executive’s remarks disappointing.
“All taxpayers expect the government to safeguard freedoms and rights of Hongkongers,” he said.
“The government is obliged to help out when residents are detained, no matter in the mainland or overseas.
“It shows that Lam knows well that Beijing, and not Hongkongers, is her boss.”
Law suggested the authorities should contact the two unnamed members, who Wong has refused to identify, for more information, and discuss the issue with mainland authorities.
The Civil Human Rights Front expressed strong disappointment, and called Lam’s comments “unsatisfactory”.
It said the fact the government had not been notified exposed a loophole in the agreement, and urged the administration to raise the case with their mainland counterparts.
“The case being snubbed by the government shows that it only kowtows to Beijing, and fails to ensure the safety of Hongkongers,” the statement said.
Speaking in Beijing, Secretary for Security John Lee Ka-chiu urged anyone who wanted to seek help from the government to provide information.
“It is important for the persons to approach departments concerned and provide the information so that the departments could act in accordance with the information provided, and the special circumstances of the case,” he said.
Additional reporting by Christy Leung