The Liaison Office of the Central People’s Government in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) and the SAR government on Sunday condemned the illegal protests in Kowloon, stressing “zero tolerance” for crimes violating Hong Kong’s security law.
“We firmly support the SAR government and the Hong Kong police in resolutely enforcing the law and maintaining social stability and the rule of law in Hong Kong,” a spokesperson for the Liaison Office said.
Given the severity of the epidemic, to ensure the safety, fairness and impartiality of the elections for the seventh-term Legislative Council (LegCo), the decision of the postponement is reasonable and in line with public opinion, said the spokesperson.
The elections were scheduled to be held on September 6, and the new date is set for September 5 next year.
“This is flagrant provocation to relevant laws and cold-blooded disregard for the lives, health and safety of the general public,” the spokesperson condemned, referring to the protesters who used the date to incite illegal gatherings.
The national security law for the HKSAR has been promulgated and put into effect, said the spokesperson, adding that relevant national security agencies of the central government and the SAR have been set up and begun to perform their duties.
“The Hong Kong society has undergone a positive change from disorder to rule,” the spokesperson noted, warning that the whole society should focus on fighting against the epidemic instead of spreading rumors and discrediting the mainland’s assistance and support to Hong Kong.
A spokesperson of the SAR government echoed that the illegal assembly may not only violate the security law but also will significantly increase the risk of the virus spreading in the community.
Using laws to safeguard national security is an international practice, the spokesperson added.
Stating that the law only targets those who attempt to split the country, subvert state power, and organize and carry out terrorist activities, as well as foreign and external forces seeking to interfere in HK’s affairs, the spokesperson stressed that Hong Kong residents need not worry about violating the law as long as they do not commit any crime endangering national security.
The spokesperson also explained the reason for the elections’ postponement and called for unity in fighting the virus.
A total of 289 people were arrested on charges including unlawful assembly and breaching the two-person gathering limit imposed amid the COVID-19 pandemic in Yau Ma Tei and Mong Kok on Sunday, Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) police said on social media.
Other offenses include assaulting police officers, obstructing police officers in due execution of duty, and disorderly conduct in a public place.
The police reiterated that the conduct of unauthorized assemblies and prohibited group gatherings was not only illegal but also unethical, seriously increasing the risk of virus transmission amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The police will continue to enforce the law rigorously to ensure community safety.