Hong Kongers fret over Beijing’s planned new security laws

Communist Party rulers in Beijing on Friday, May 22, 2020 unveiled details of the legislation that critics see as a turning point for the former British colony. (Reuters)
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Updated 23 May 2020

Hong Kongers fret over Beijing’s planned new security laws

  • Communist Party rulers in Beijing on Friday unveiled details of the legislation
  • ‘Whether or not Hong Kong is still Hong Kong, it depends on us, Hong Kong people’

HONG KONG: Newspaper vendor Man, 60, was speechless when she saw the headline that Beijing plans to impose national security laws on Hong Kong, and worried what the future holds for youth in the Chinese-ruled city.
Communist Party rulers in Beijing on Friday unveiled details of the legislation that critics see as a turning point for the former British colony, which enjoys many freedoms, including an independent legal system and right to protest, not allowed on the mainland.
“I was very upset when I held the newspaper with the headline that the national security law has arrived in Hong Kong,” said Man, who declined to give her full name due to the sensitivity of the issue.
“I feel upset for the young generation ... What can they do now, where can they go?” said Man, who has been selling newspapers in the bustling working-class district of Mong Kok for nearly five decades.
Lok, 42, a clerk at an investment company and mother of two children aged 16 and nine, shared her sense of despair about the outlook for Hong Kong’s younger generation.
“There’s no prospect for them anymore,” said Lok, adding she hopes her children can leave the city.
“I think Hong Kong is half-way dead. I didn’t expect Hong Kong would deteriorate that quickly.”
Lui, 22, who works in marketing, told Reuters he felt scared when he heard the news but said Hong Kong people need to be persistent and continue to fight against what many see as Beijing’s tightening grip over the city.
“Whether or not Hong Kong is still Hong Kong, it depends on us, Hong Kong people,” Lui said.
“We should not give up easily simply because of the legislation of the national security law. Being persistent is the Hong Kong spirit.”
Others hope the proposed laws can help bring calm to a city wracked by months of often violent anti-government protests that show signs of ramping up again as anger builds over Beijing’s move to assert its authority over the city.
Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam says her government will “fully cooperate” with the Chinese parliament to safeguard national security, which she said would not affect rights, freedoms or judicial independence.
“We are not wealthy people and not financially sound. To earn a living is of the utmost importance so as to feed my family,” said Ben Ip, 45, a mechanic and owner of a vehicle paint shop in the city’s Tai Hang district.
“As an ordinary Hong Kong citizen, we want to have a stable life in a safe environment. The law may speed up some people to leave ... it can be a good thing in the longer run, leading to a calmer Hong Kong.”


Ethiopia says suspects confessed to killing popular singer

Updated 2 min 47 sec ago

Ethiopia says suspects confessed to killing popular singer

ADDIS ABABA: Ethiopia’s attorney general said Friday that two men had confessed to killing a popular singer from the Oromo ethnic group as part of a plot to topple Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s government.
Hachala Hundessa became a symbol of the Oromo struggle during years of anti-government protests that swept Abiy to power in 2018.
His shooting death last week sparked days of protests and ethnic violence that killed 239 people, according to police figures.
“The assassination was intended to be a cover to take power from the incumbent by force,” attorney general Abebech Abbebe said in a statement Friday aired on state television, without providing details.
Though Abiy is Ethiopia’s first Oromo head of state, Oromo nationalists accuse him of insufficiently championing their interests since taking office, a complaint echoed by many protesters last week.
Abebech said that along with the two men who have allegedly confessed to the crime, the government has identified a third suspect who remains on the run.
One of the men in custody identified the masterminds of the alleged plot as members of a rebel group the government believes is affiliated with the opposition Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) political party, Abebech said.
The OLF, a former rebel movement, returned to Ethiopia from exile after Abiy took office and has repeatedly disavowed any links to armed insurgents.
The Internet remained shut off Friday for an 11th consecutive day, though Addis Ababa remains calm and Abiy’s office issued a statement saying the surrounding Oromia region had “returned to calm and citizens have resumed normal activities.”
In her statement, however, Abebech said unnamed agitators were calling for additional protests and road blockages in the coming days.
“There are those that have hidden themselves in nice places but are calling on Ethiopian youth to fight each other, close roads and to cease working as part of a rebellion call,” Abebech said.
“Above all we call on our people to disobey this rebellion call and to thwart it.”