ad info

 > magazine
 web features
 magazine archive
 customer service
  east asia
  southeast asia
  south asia
  central asia

Other News
TIME Europe
Asiaweek Services
Contact Asiaweek
About Asiaweek
Media Kit
Get up to 3 months of Asiaweek free when you subscribe online!


'This Is an Evil Law'
Students take to Hong Kong's streets

China: At home and abroad, Beijing runs up against strong faiths it cannot shake. And it's not just Falungong

In the three years since Hong Kong returned to China, thousands of people have exercised their right to assemble peacefully. They have protested everything from plunging property values to mother-tongue instruction. Followers of the Falungong movement have done safely in Hong Kong what their comrades in Beijing get arrested for. But last weekend saw something unusual — a demonstration in favor of demonstrations.

More than 300 people rallied against the recent arrest of seven student activists stemming from protests in April and June about tuition rises and the right of abode for mainlanders. They are charged with violating the Public Order Ordinance, which requires that any group of more than 30 people must apply for a permit seven days in advance of a demonstration.

Under the British, the law was even stricter, but in 1996, as they moved to introduce more democratic rights, the ordinance was relaxed. Henceforth only prior police notification was needed. In early 1997 Beijing's Preparatory Committee, appointed before Hong Kong reverted to China, recommended that the old rules be reinstated after the handover. The provisional legislature, apppointed by Beijing to straddle the handover, duly enacted the changes.

Then a surprising thing happened. Nobody enforced them. By some counts, more than 300 "illegal" gatherings have been held, not just by the long-haired radicals of the April 5 Action Group but also by more conservative groups. Since the handover, there have been two exceptions to this tolerance; both involved university student leaders. The arrests raise disturbing questions of selective enforcement of the law, especially as many well-known democrats, such as Martin Lee Chu-ming and Szeto Wah, have ignored it without being arrested. Secretary of Justice Elsie Leung has left this hot potato to the police for now. "The ball is not yet in our court," a spokesman said.

"This is an evil law and there is no reason for us to follow it," said Fung Ka-keung, Chinese University student union vice president. The students are getting wide backing not just from teachers, who recently took out newspaper advertisements voicing their anger and support, but also from the establishment. Chung Shui-ming, who sits on Chief Executive Tung Chee-hwa's cabinet, urged the government to show leniency so long as student act peacefully.

The issue is now back on the front burner. But how long before the police start enforcing the Public Order Ordinance strictly in order to prove they are treating everyone equally? If that happens, Hong Kong will look more like one country, one system.

— By Yulanda Chung

Back to the top

Write to Asiaweek at

This edition's table of contents | Home


Quick Scroll: More stories from Asiaweek, TIME and CNN


U.S. secretary of state says China should be 'tolerant'

Philippine government denies Estrada's claim to presidency

Faith, madness, magic mix at sacred Hindu festival

Land mine explosion kills 11 Sri Lankan soldiers

Japan claims StarLink found in U.S. corn sample

Thai party announces first coalition partner


COVER: President Joseph Estrada gives in to the chanting crowds on the streets of Manila and agrees to make room for his Vice President

THAILAND: Twin teenage warriors turn themselves in to Bangkok officials

CHINA: Despite official vilification, hip Chinese dig Lamaist culture

PHOTO ESSAY: Estrada Calls Snap Election

WEB-ONLY INTERVIEW: Jimmy Lai on feeling lucky -- and why he's committed to the island state


COVER: The DoCoMo generation - Japan's leading mobile phone company goes global

Bandwidth Boom: Racing to wire - how underseas cable systems may yet fall short

TAIWAN: Party intrigues add to Chen Shui-bian's woes

JAPAN: Japan's ruling party crushes a rebel at a cost

SINGAPORE: Singaporeans need to have more babies. But success breeds selfishness

Launch CNN's Desktop Ticker and get the latest news, delivered right on your desktop!

Today on CNN
Web-only Exclusives
November 30, 2000

From Our Correspondent: Hirohito and the War
A conversation with biographer Herbert Bix

From Our Correspondent: A Rough Road Ahead
Bad news for the Philippines - and some others

From Our Correspondent: Making Enemies
Indonesia needs friends. So why is it picking fights?


COVER: Inside PCCW: An intimate, exclusive look at Richard Li's make-or-break merger between CyberWorks and HKT
Interview: CEO Li on his deals and his management

TAIWAN: With his PM gone, can Chen Shui-bian still govern?

CHINA: At home and abroad, Beijing runs up against strong faiths it cannot shake. And it's not just Falungong
Hong Kong: Is the territory cracking down on protests too?

MALAYSIA: For a Muslim's beliefs, the personal is the political

THAILAND: Why Bangkok is Asia's center for organized crime

Desert Storms: With the increasing desertification of China, Beijing seems to be losing the battle

Health: Singapore's crisis over a children's disease

People: Hong Kong vulgarity riles a Polish filmmaker

Environment: There's something fishy about Japanese whaling

Rainforests: A priest battles illegal loggers in the Philippines

Investing: Counting on China's for-foreigners B shares?

Numbers Game: Web traffic rating services start to measure up

Hacker: An interview with the suspected "Love Bug" creator

Chips: It's not the end for Asia's PC- and chip-makers

Cutting Edge: Point, Shoot and Send


Control: Jakarta and Manila need to keep the military on a leash

Identity: Japan should be generous to its ethnic Koreans

Letters & Comment: What to do about high oil prices

The Bottom Line: Asiaweek's ranking of world economies

Back to the top   © 2000 Asiaweek. All Rights Reserved.
Terms under which this service is provided to you.
Read our privacy guidelines.