The enactment of the National Security Law for Hong Kong has had a strong deterrent effect on the opposition camp and those engaged in separatism, the chairwoman of the city's largest political party said.
Starry Lee Wai-king, head of the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong, said she hopes the national security legislation will bring back peaceful days for Hong Kong to start anew.
"The national security legislation has a strong deterrent effect," Lee told China Daily in an exclusive interview. "From what we have seen, many pro-independence organizations were disbanded before the law came into effect on June 30. Many political figures said they would 'retire' from politics, while many attempted to 'bleach' their records by keeping a distance from separatism.
"The national security legislation was enacted to respond to the actual situation in Hong Kong, which was battered by violent demonstrations for almost a year since June last year, amid tensions between the two big powers, China and the US. We hope extremists and pro-Hong Kong independence activities will stop causing trouble in Hong Kong and give us back peaceful days. Hong Kong cannot afford to lose anymore. Only when Hong Kong enjoys peace again can we rejuvenate economic development and move ahead," she said.
"Most of all, the national security legislation has no retroactive effect, meaning this is a forward-looking enactment to enable Hong Kong to fly high again."
Lee praised the central authorities for drafting the national security legislation in language as close as possible to the common law system, with which Hong Kong is familiar.
"The Standing Committee of the National People's Congress, in drafting the law, has put in huge efforts and fully taken into account the differences of the two systems between Hong Kong and the Chinese mainland. Among other things, Hong Kong courts will hear the large majority of national security cases; the judges are selected from incumbent judges; while the common law practices, such as presumption of innocence, are adopted."
Though the national security legislation has frightened the opposition and the separatists, she said it is unrealistic to think that national security crimes will disappear immediately once the law is enacted. A small number of people will risk violating the law or testing the bottom line of law enforcement after enactment of the national security legislation, while some spread "distorted truth" to incite young people to commit crimes to achieve their so-called "justice", she added.
"There was a loophole of national security threats. I appeal now to them not to cause trouble and destruction anymore. If they continue to wreak havoc, Hong Kong cannot start again and will suffer badly," she said.