Bringing in an anti-mask law may have a negative impact on society and hurt Hong Kong’s reputation, some leading government officials said in response to the proposal.
The Department of Justice has done some research on a proposal to implement an anti-mask law in Hong Kong, Teresa Cheng Yeuk-wah, the Secretary for Justice, said on Wednesday.
There were a lot of factors to consider before an anti-mask law could be implemented, Cheng said. The government needed to consider the impact and consequences on society if such a law, even an emergency law, was implemented, she added.
On Tuesday, Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor said the government had to consider the outcome of launching an anti-mask law and possibly further damage Hong Kong’s global reputation.
On Monday, pro-Beijing lawmakers Junius Ho Kwan-yiu and Ann Chiang Lai-wan said in a media briefing that the government should implement an anti-mask law as early as possible to help stop violent protests.
They accused masked protesters of attacking people on the streets, disrupting public transport and vandalizing public facilities, shopping malls and police stations. They said an anti-mask law would help police arrest the criminals.
Ho said the government could implement the anti-mask law by invoking the Emergency Regulations Ordinance, instead of going through a legislation process in the Legislative Council.
He said the emergency laws can also grant the Chief Executive in the Executive Council the power to make regulations to forbid people from demonstrating contempt to the police, showing Hong Kong Independence banners and obstructing law enforcement for the reason of reporting the news.
On Tuesday, Basic Law Committee vice-chairwoman Maria Tam Wai-chu said she hopes the Legislative Council will discuss the anti-mask law in its first meeting in October. She said masked people who had committed crimes should be wanted and arrested with the help of this law, which has been implemented in many foreign countries.
A spokesperson representing the voice of protesters said in the Citizens’ Press Conference that anti-mask legislation was an evil law that suppressed Hong Kong people’s human rights and it should not be passed.
Pro-democracy lawmaker Dennis Kwok Wing-hang said protesters would continue to rally, even if there was an anti-mask law. Kwok said it was unlikely that the Legislative Council could discuss the law as the building would definitely be surrounded by protesters.