Hong Kong leader lauds new security law

HONG KONG (AP) — Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam lauded the city’s new national security law yesterday as “remarkably effective in restoring stability”, despite criticism that it is severely narrowing the space for free speech and political opposition.

Lam said in her annual policy address that the law had prevented a return of political unrest and that bringing normalcy back to the political system is an urgent priority.Beijing imposed the security law on Hong Kong in June, aiming to crack down on dissent following months of anti-government protests in the city that at times descended

into violence. Last year’s protests were triggered by a proposed extradition law that would have allowed suspects in Hong Kong to be sent to the mainland.

The proposal was eventually scrapped. “Advocacies of Hong Kong independence and collusions with external forces have progressively subsided, some of the prominent figures have kept a low profile, radical organisations have ceased operations or dissolved,” Lam said in her address.

“After a year of social unrest with fear for personal safety, Hong Kong people can once again enjoy their basic rights and freedoms, according to the law,” she added.

Lam also criticised foreign governments for interfering in Hong Kong’s affairs, saying it had jeopardised national security.

The security law’s passage has drawn strong criticism among rights groups and foreign governments.

Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam delivers her policies at the chamber of the Legislative Council in Hong Kong. PHOTO: AP