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After the National Security Law, what’s next?

The government and community stakeholders are still not aware of the question of “what’s next?” after the National Security Law. Photo: AFP

Before the 30th anniversary of 1997 Handover, the Central Government has promulgated the so-called Hong Kong National Security Law that aims to enhance local and central governments’ ability of safeguarding national security by criminalizing certain anti-government acts. It again brings Hong Kong in the world spotlight, drawing the international community’s attention on this single law.

The law gives powers to the law enforcement agencies to crack down groups and parties that pursue the political objective of Hong Kong independence, and gives authority to the government to stand against the so-called foreign interventions. Currently, the political parties and government officials had been busy in dealing with the law and relevant measures.

The law itself is coercive and a state-centric top-down approach. Its core is deeply rooted with the concept of traditional security and realism – emphasizing the importance of security, sovereignty and the law enforcement aspect. It provides formal constrains regulating individuals’ behaviour, preventing them to perform a certain act through punishments that are adhered to negative emotions.

From a traditional realist state and national security perspective, treating the Hong Kong social unrests as a consequence of political infiltration from foreign powers and a threat to national sovereignty is understandable. But, apart from that, the deep-rooted issues of high magnitude of strains and grievances caused by socio-economic hardships and political strains are still present and unsolved.

While we look at the issue in a deeper sense, as I mentioned in my previous articles, radicalization and extremism do play a critical role of dragging Hong Kong into socio-political warfare. It was like an out-of-control train packed with powder kegs that keep exploding, hence every explosion further polarized the society and damaging the core political and moral values of Hong Kong.

A recent par excellence systematic study named “Who are the European youths willing to engage in radicalisation? A multidisciplinary review of their psychological and social profiles” published in European Psychiatry (conducted by Campelo, N., Oppetit, A., Neau, F., Cohen, D. & Bronsard, G.) might provide an essential hint to us. It systemically studies the research findings of 22 qualitative and quantitative radicalization studies from the PsycINFO, PubMed and data centre of French Government of Inter-ministerial mission of vigilance and fight against sectarian aberrations (Mission interministérielle de vigilance et de lutte contre les dérives sectaires).

It summarizes that causes of radicalization could be ranged from (1) micro individual factors including psychological vulnerabilities and personal uncertainty and feeling of injustice, (2) mesco level relating to micro-environmental risk factors include family dysfunction and friendships with radicalised individuals and (3) macro societal risk factors including political events and anomie.

The law might have an immediate and short-term effects in suppressing the radicals and maintaining law and order in Hong Kong, but it does not touch and will not solve any abovementioned underlying issues. In fact, it is neither human-centric nor problem-solving and peace-oriented. Unfortunately, the government and community stakeholders are still not aware of the question of “what’s next?”, and profoundly is not making any progress addressing the issues. Therefore, it is essential to think beyond the present. Government officials and community stakeholders should start thinking to design a comprehensive and intersectoral policy that targets to solving issues from a localized down-top approach.


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