NSL: CCP Words as weapons
Back in May of 2020 CCP, Chief Executive (CE) Carrie Lam and her Executive Council people were saying that National Security Law (NSL) prepared for Hong Kong (HK) would only target a small number of people...
Two Sessions 2020: Hong Kong national security law will only target ‘small group of people’, Vice-Premier Han Zheng says as Beijing hits back at critics, (Yahoo News/SCMP, 23 May 2020)
This was their response to critics of the NSL...their defensive words were said to silence critics...and repeated often enough they did have a silencing effect, but that doesn't mean that HK people have embraced the NSL!
By November 2021 the CCP and their CE in Communist HK were promoting the narrative that the NSL has been effective in bringing calm to the city, and that HK people can "once again enjoy their basic rights and freedoms, according to the law.”
Such claims fly in the face of broad and strong opposition to the NSL, and also substantial evidence that rights and freedoms of HK people have deteriorated under the CE's governance. There are more than FOUR documents from United Nations special rapporteurs alone, outlining serious concerns about breaches of the Joint Declaration and a range of UN conventions. (see the following links if they are new to you)
BUT now in 2021, as part of the reach of NSL, HK civil servants are being asked to sign a document pledging their loyalty to the Chinese-ruled city's mini-constitution, and dedication to the government. Questions are being asked about whether as public servants they can still exercise their freedom of speech, and freedom of association. And in HK there are around 180,000 civil servants which is NOT a 'small number'!
The Civil Service Bureau said in a statement that civil servants who refuse to sign the pledge could lose their jobs.
"Negligence or refusal to take the oath or to duly sign and return the declaration by a civil servant casts serious doubts on his or her willingness to take up these basic duties and his or her suitability to remain in the civil service," the statement said.
Back in November 2020 civil servants were told that chances of promotion would be in jeopardy if they refused to complete the pledge of allegiance to the city and its Basic Law.
So, firstly the NSL is now impacting a much larger group of Hong Kong people than ever envisaged, many more people than it was intended to, many more than our government said it was going to!
Civil servant unions called for the new requirement to be clearly defined and raised concerns over restrictions on freedom of speech. (November 2020)
“It is a new requirement, which did not exist when we joined the government,” said the chief executive of the Federation of Civil Service Unions, Leung Chau-ting. “The government needs to make it clear what the red line that we cannot cross is. The government should make very clear the legal implications.
“Under the current system, if we break the civil service code, the worst consequence is that we will get sacked. But if we take the new oath, the consequence may be that we will be jailed if we are deemed having breached it.”
Mung Siu-tat of the pro-democracy Confederation of Trade Unions feared the loyalty test would have a chilling effect on civil servants’ right to free speech.
“After office hours, a civil servant is also a common citizen and he should enjoy the freedoms of speech and assemblies like other people,” he said. “But now, can they still criticise the government during private time?”
Mung noted that the code required civil servants remain politically neutral while carrying out their jobs.
In a circular to civil servants (15 January 2021), officials said it was not feasible to list "exhaustively" all types of improper conduct as they may come in many different forms.
However, it said advocating or supporting "Hong Kong independence", refusing to recognise China's sovereignty over the city, soliciting intervention by foreign or external forces into the city's affairs, or carrying out activities that endanger national security were not allowed.
Any act that "aims to undermine the government in the governance and administration of Hong Kong" would also be seen as violating the declaration, according to the circular.
The government said merely expressing views in public to oppose a certain policy or decision of the government would not normally constitute improper conduct.
On 18 January 2021 Civil service minister Patrick Nip further clarified the oath taking issue saying it's reasonable for civil servants to express their opinion on certain policies, but it could become a problem if those views are in conflict with their identity as government workers.
The problem is he never said which government policies are out of bounds. Asked about whether civil servants could speak to media, the response given by Nip seemed to suggest that it was okay for civil servants to speak to pro-Beijing media, but not those deemed to be anti-China. Pressed to consider Epoch Times, and RTHK news services specifically, Nip would not give further clarification.
This is the whole problem!
What's okay today, will be a crime tomorrow under our current communist rule by law. And what's more, they will everlastingly try to punish you or arrest you for doing whatever was ENTIRELY LEGAL before, after they pass a new repressive law or rule to restrict your freedom. This CCP tactic assumed by HK Police and prosecutors, plus pro-Beijing people goes against Article 15 of the UN convention ICCPR.
And secondly, the union representing a great many civil servants is disbanding in fear of prosecution and persecution under the vague and shifting terms of the NSL. During the 2019 protests in HK a number of new labour unions were formed in different employment sectors both to protect workers rights, and as a platform for building up electoral support for the pro-democracy movement. So, the HK government has engineered the undoing of some of that good work!
Civil service union formed during Hong Kong protests becomes first to disband in response to oath-taking rule, (Yahoo News/SCMP, 16 January 2021)
Hong Kong unions likely to ‘tread carefully’ as mandatory allegiance requirement for civil servants heralds ‘arduous’ era for city’s labour movement, (Yahoo News/SCMP, 17 January 2021)
Civil servants' union disbands over safety risks in compulsory oath-taking, (Apple Daily, 18 January 2021)
Why is the HK media not screaming out this glaring mismatch between the NSL as it was first presented to citizens of Hong Kong and global stakeholders? And what about how it is being enacted? WTPHK believe media freedom has been so impacted by the NSL, that a degreee of self-censorship has crept into journalistic analysis. We have only to look at what has happened to media mogul Jimmy Lai in HK recently, and to Ms. Nabela Qoser or Choy Yuk-ling to see what happens to investigative journalists who start probing sensitive issues of immense public concern. Freedom fighters still remember how Indonesian journalist Veby Mega Indah was blinded in her right eye in the 2019 protests and has not to this day been served justice!
Media in HK has to walk the thin red line.
Truth is the 'line' is the rope that the CCP is using to strangle HongKongers!
Carrie Lam herself has said that those who oppose the NSL are "enemies of the people" ....but what she really meant was they are "enemies of the state"!
HK chief says opponents of security law are "enemy of the people", (Devdiscourse, 16 June 2020)
Carrie Lam fails to acknowledge that many, many HK people feel decidely UNSAFE in their own city thanks to the NSL. She even says that making HK civil servants pledge allegiance to the SAR won't damage their morale. (RTHK, 19 January 2021) Does she really believe her own fabrication of the truth, a misrepresentation that anyone else would simply term a LIE?
CCP views their NSL legislation forced upon the people of HK as a weapon, so clearly CCP is not at all averse to taking up arms to attack its opponents:
China boasts it holds 'a sword over lawbreakers' heads' after passing Hong Kong security law as campaigners warn it is 'the end of the city as we know it', (Daily Mail.com, 30 June 2020)
Those outside HK should take this as the strongest example yet that whatever the CCP says will turn out to be untrue. Just as CCP has breached the Joint Declaration, they cannot be trusted to keep to their word on NSL, or any matters of governance. We must be alert to CCP gaslighting, and stop giving up whatever space allows them breath, that permits their treachery to be uttered at our expense.
Opposition to Civil Servant oath-taking
'Oaths for civil servants would be white terror', (RTHK, 17 November 2019)
Support for Civil Servant oath-taking
The HK government pushes the oath-making boundary, bringing more people into its sphere of influence:
Hong Kong gov’t pledge of allegiance also to cover contractors for civil service, minister says, (HKFP, 19 January 2021)
Foreign Native English Teachers at gov’t schools could be made to swear loyalty to Hong Kong as oath requirement expands, (Yahoo News/HKFP, 21 January 2021)