Senator Ngo condemns arrest and spurious charges laid against media tycoon and pro-democracy activist, Jimmy Lai, under controversial national security bill
[For immediate release]- September 10, 2020
Today, Senator Thanh Hai Ngo issued the following Statement in response to the arrest and dubious charges laid against media tycoon and Hong Kong pro-democracy activist, Jimmy Lai:
On August 24th, a Hong Kong court ruled that prima facie evidence exists for prosecution of ardent pro-democracy activist and media mogul, Jimmy Lai Chee-ying, for allegedly intimidating a reporter in June 2017 in Victoria Park. This well-respected champion of free speech and vocal critic of Beijing and its puppet leadership in Hong Kong, is the latest and most high-profile target of China’s aggressive crackdown on fundamental rights and freedoms under Hong Kong’s Chinese Communist Party (CCP) endorsed national security bill. On the morning of Monday, August 10, 2020, hundreds of police officers raided the offices (and confiscated documents) of Mr. Lai’s Apple Daily, one of Hong-Kong’s most-read newspapers. He was arrested and detained over allegations, which included, the vaguely defined offence of “collusion with a foreign country” under the new anti-sedition law. His two sons, four executives of his company, Next Digital, as well as nine other activists were also detained under these same charges.
Since the coming into force of this draconian new legislation at the end of June, we have seen a deliberate and coordinated effort to significantly curtail freedom of expression and freedom of the press; students were arrested over social media posts, and warrants issued for pro-democracy activists in Hong Kong and abroad. The democratic process, as well, was equally compromised, as pro-democracy politicians were disqualified from running in legislative council elections, with the elections being postponed for a year.
The CCP’s merciless authoritarian onslaught on basic human rights and liberties in contravention of the “One Country, Two Systems” principle outlined in the 1984 Sino-British Joint Declaration demonstrates China’s utter contempt for universally recognized principles and time-honoured international conventions. I unequivocally condemn the imposition of this new national security law by Beijing to silence dissidents and erode democracy, fundamental freedoms and the rule of law, that were once enjoyed by the people of Hong Kong. I echo the “Five Eyes” (FVEY) intelligence alliance’s concerns regarding the erosion of rights in Hong Kong and fully support the legitimate expectations of Hong Kong’s citizenry for the establishment of a timely electoral process that is democratic, free, fair and credible. I also join them in calling on the Hong Kong government to reinstate the eligibility of disqualified candidates in conformity with democratic rights and freedoms enshrined in the Basic Law.
For more information, please contact:
Office of the Honourable Thanh Hai Ngo