Amnesty International to leave as security law scope expands . . .
Human rights organization Amnesty International announced yesterday that it will close its Hong Kong office by the end of the year, citing the detrimental impact of the “vagueness” of the National Security Law (NSL) on its activities. The announcement came as the city’s second trial on NSL charges ended with the conviction of a man for inciting revolution. Plans are afoot to build a ‘mega courtroom’ to deal with the rising caseload from dissent-related charges. Against this background, and amid mounting police probes and arrests, local civil society groups, including major student unions, have continued to disband. The NSL has also impacted public spaces and sporting events. For instance, Hong Kong University recently asked that a statue commemorating the 1989 Tiananmen massacre be removed out of NSL concerns, and police recently stopped marathon runners mid-race for wearing clothing or having tattoos deemed political.
Engaging with youth and society amid emigration wave . . .
Recent polling indicates that 42 per cent of Hongkongers would emigrate if given the chance, of which more than one-third are already preparing to leave. Canada is the second most popular destination of choice among those surveyed. Schools at all levels have faced significant losses in enrolment as families have decided to leave. Even so, Hong Kong’s Education Department is implementing mandatory national security education classes in schools and universities. Beijing’s Liaison Office has also begun to conduct regular ‘listening tours’ of working-class neighbourhoods to send public feedback to the city’s government. While the Hong Kong and Beijing governments view these measures as attempts to develop closer relationships with the public, they will also face further criticism that Hong Kong’s government takes direction from Beijing instead of developing its own policies.
Ambitious and controversial Northern Metropolis plan . . .
In a recent policy address, Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam focused much attention on alleviating Hong Kong’s housing crisis, a chronic concern. Beijing recently set a 2049 deadline for the city to “bid farewell” to its famous ‘cage homes,’ identifying housing as key to resolving the city’s unrest. Lam has proposed a new ‘Northern Metropolis’ development plan to build an urban centre next to the mainland border with almost a million new housing units. Combined with other existing plans, this could address the city’s significant land shortfall. However, critics note the lack of a budget estimate or timeline. Lam’s previous signature housing development proposal, the ‘Lantau Tomorrow Vision,’ faces significant budget overruns, project delays, and environmental concerns, leaving the city with no new significant increases in available housing for at least a decade.
- Hong Kong Free Press: Hong Kong Policy Address: What was missing – and what the omissions mean for the city’s future
- The New York Times: With new conviction, Hong Kong uses security law to clamp down on speech
- South China Morning Post: Why is Beijing’s liaison office going on ‘listening tours’ in Hong Kong and should Carrie Lam worry about a second governing team in charge?