Head of lawyers association ‘saddened’ by Beijing bill

Jorge Neto Valente, head of the Macau Lawyers Association, expressed his sadness about Beijing’s move to make national security legislation at the level of the National People’s Congress, rather than at the territorial level.
Valente was not convinced that bypassing the Hong Kong Legislative Council in the legislation would be an effective way to calm the social unrest in the city. Additionally, he pointed out that there was no such stipulation in the city’s Basic Law, the mini constitution that governs the SAR.
He used the example of Macau criminalizing breaches of national security in 2009 to demonstrate his views. “Certain laws that govern acts of treason, separation, incitement of rebellion, overthrowing one’s own country and theft of national secrets are within the authority of a Special Administrative Region,” the veteran lawyer was quoted saying by Portuguese public broadcaster Radio Macau.
He also pointed out that stipulations related to the aforementioned acts in Macau’s national security legislation have long been inscribed in the city’s Penal Code.
When asked about whether this was “the death of the ‘Two Systems’ in the One Country Two Systems policy framework,” Valente was ambiguous, saying, “I can’t tell whether it’s the end.”
He did, however, note that “[Beijing’s move] will leave scars.”
He said that he wished that Hong Kong had made its own law earlier, as Macau did in 2009.
In his opinion, resolving the “Article 23 Legislation” might not have become as difficult as it has now is if the conditions in Hong Kong had been better.
“Article 23 Legislation” is a term widely used in the two SARs of the People’s Republic of China, Macau and Hong Kong. Article 23 stipulates that the SARs “shall enact laws on [their] own to prohibit any act of treason, secession, sedition, subversion against the central government.” AL

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