HK chief’s top aide to head security law committee

China has appointed Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lams top aide as secretary general of the new local committee overseeing national security law policy in the city, ait was reported on Thursday.

Eric Chan, Director of the Chief Executive’s office, is to take up the role at the Committee for Safeguarding National Security, which is being established under the sweeping legislation that took effect in Hong Kong on Tuesday night, the South China Morning Post (SCMP) newspaper said in a report.

Chaired by Lam with a China-appointed adviser among its number, the committee will formulate policies for national security, as well as advancing the development of the legal system and enforcement mechanisms of the city.

A former immigration chief, Chan joined the department in 1982 as assistant immigration officer, working his way up to become deputy director in 2010 before being appointed director in 2011.

The full draft of the controversial legislation, in six chapters consisting of 66 articles, was released late Tuesday night after it became effective in the city amid widespread concerns about its implications, despite official reassurances that only a small minority would be targeted, said the South China Morning Post newspaper.

It lists four categories of offences – secession, subversion, terrorism, and collusion with a foreign country or external elements to endanger national security.

The maximum penalty for each crime is life imprisonment, although the suggested sentence for some minor offences is less than three years’ imprisonment.

Suspects can be extradited to mainland China in cases that involve “complicated situations” of interference by foreign forces; cases in which the local government cannot effectively enforce the law and ones where national security is under “serious and realistic threats”.

Moreover, any person convicted under the law will not be allowed to stand as a candidate in the elections for Hong Kong’s Legislative Council.

The next elections to elect the members of this body are scheduled in September.

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