September 27, 2023
HONG KONG – The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region government on Tuesday strongly condemned and opposed the misleading and slanderous remarks made by various overseas organizations and media on the law enforcement actions and legal proceedings against former media tycoon Jimmy Lai Chee-ying.
In a statement, the HKSAR government said these remarks constitute blatant political interference in the internal affairs of the SAR and the independent exercise of judicial power by the city’s courts.
“We strongly urge the relevant countries where the calls were addressed to observe the international law and basic norms of international relations and refrain from interfering in Hong Kong matters, which are purely China’s internal affairs,” an HKSAR government spokesman was quoted as saying in the statement.
“The HKSAR government despises the calls by the entities concerned for the so-called ‘sanctions’ and shall never be intimidated,” he added.
The spokesman said any attempt to interfere with the judicial proceedings in the HKSAR by means of political power, to procure a defendant’s evasion of the criminal justice process, is a blatant act undermining the rule of law of Hong Kong.
He added that anyone who requests a foreign country to impose “sanctions” against the HKSAR or the People’s Republic of China also commits the offense of collusion with a foreign country or with external elements to endanger national security, contrary to the National Security Law for Hong Kong.
The spokesman said Lai had fully exercised his right to defend himself and the right to appeal, and the verdicts were given by the courts exercising judicial power independently after open trials and hearings.
“Any suggestion that the charges were ‘spurious’ or the conviction ‘unjust’ is an utter disrespect to the due administration of justice,” he said.
The spokesman said Hong Kong residents enjoy the fundamental rights and freedoms guaranteed under the Basic Law and the Hong Kong Bill of Rights Ordinance and the NSL also clearly stipulates that human rights shall be respected and protected in safeguarding national security in the city.
“However, such rights and freedoms are not absolute. The exercise of such rights may be subject to restrictions that are provided by law and are necessary for pursuing legitimate aims such as the protection of national security or public order,” the spokesman said.
“Journalists, like everyone else, have an obligation to abide by all the laws,” he added.
The spokesman also said that HKSAR law enforcement agencies have been taking law enforcement actions based on evidence and strictly in accordance with the law and any suggestion that the cases were tied with political considerations “is totally absurd and inappropriate”.
“The suggestion that persons or organizations with certain backgrounds should be immune from legal sanctions for their illegal acts and activities is tantamount to granting such persons or organizations privileges to break the law and is totally contrary to the spirit of the rule of law,” the spokesman added.