Source: SCMP (1/6/21)
Mass arrests of former Hong Kong opposition lawmakers, activists for alleged national security law violations
Occupy Central co-founder Benny Tai detained along with former legislators James To, Lam Cheuk-ting, Andrew Wan, Alvin Yeung and Wu Chi-wai. The pan-democratic camp held primary contests last July in five constituencies to determine who would run in the Legislative Council election in September
By Danny Lee
Around 50 former opposition lawmakers and activists were arrested on Wednesday morning on subversion charges over a primary election run-off, marking the biggest crackdown under the national security law since it took effect on June 30 last year.
Most of those detained either organised or took part in primary contests held by the pan-democratic camp last July as part of a “35-plus” strategy to maximise the camp’s chances of taking control of the 70-member legislature.
Among the arrested were former Democratic Party and Civic Party lawmakers James To Kun-sun, Lam Cheuk-ting, Andrew Wan Siu-kin, Alvin Yeung Ngok-kiu and Wu Chi-wai, according to their public Facebook pages.
Arrested localists activists include Owen Chow Ka-sing, Lester Shum and Gwyneth Ho Kwai-lam, who outcompeted veteran politicians in the primaries.
The pan-democratic camp held primary contests last July in five constituencies to determine who would run in the Legislative Council election in September, which was later postponed amid the pandemic.
The “35-plus” strategy, if successful, would have enabled the camp to form a powerful bloc in Legco, allowing them to block budgets, stall bills and effectively paralyse the government.
According to the Democratic Party, the police said during the arrests that the strategy was an act of subversion under the national security law imposed by Beijing in June, half a month before the primaries were held.
Ahead of the primaries, the secretary for constitutional and mainland affairs, Erick Tsang Kwok-wai, had warned that the “candidates” of the primary poll – conducted in July last year – could be in breach of the new national security law as well as the city’s election laws.
The city’s leader, Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor, had also warned that any planned action to paralyse policymaking was potentially subversive.
Joshua Wong Chi-fung, now in prison, alleging he had also violated the national security law, according to his Facebook page.
The morning operation marks the largest mass arrest operation since the national security law took effect six months ago.
Previously, only 40 people had been arrested by the special security unit – with four charged – including media tycoon Jimmy Lai Chee-ying and a 30-year-old protester accused of chanting pro-independence slogans in public.
Under the national security law, a principal offender convicted of subversion faces imprisonment of 10 years to life, while an “active participant” can be sentenced to between three and 10 years’ jail.
A minor can face a fixed term of not more than three years’ imprisonment or short-term detention or restriction.