Hong Kong society welcomes anti-mask law, expects effective curb on violence

The radical protesters' masking has brought great difficulties for police's law enforcement and has posed a serious threat to social peace and people's safety.

The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) government's decision on Friday to make an anti-mask law was welcomed by the Hong Kong society.

HKSAR Chief Executive Carrie Lam announced Friday afternoon that the HKSAR government has invoked the power under the Emergency Regulations Ordinance and made the Prohibition on Face Covering Regulation to "create a deterrent effect against masked, violent protesters and rioters."

In a joint statement issued after the announcement, 40 members of the HKSAR Legislative Council (LegCo) said they supported the HKSAR government in taking effective measures to help with police's law enforcement and to end violence and chaos in Hong Kong.

Hong Kong has been facing months of riots with various forms of vandalism and attacks, the joint statement said, adding that most perpetrators hid their identities by wearing masks, making it difficult for the police to gather evidence and enforce the law.

Considering that many overseas jurisdictions have established similar laws and there have been cases proving these laws' effectiveness in helping with law enforcement, the LegCo members agreed that it is of great urgency for Hong Kong to make the anti-mask law so as to strengthen the law enforcement's capability and have a deterrent effect on violent protesters, it said.

Many of Hong Kong's social and political groups, chambers of commerce, as well as prominent law experts also voiced support to the decision to make the Prohibition on Face Covering Regulation.

Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong (DAB), a major political group in Hong Kong, said in a statement on Friday afternoon that the decision to make the anti-mask law is difficult but "absolutely necessary" because Hong Kong is currently in a state of serious public danger where people's safety and freedom of expression can not be guaranteed.

"We must point out that the vast majority of recent illegal and violent acts were perpetrated by masked radical protesters, who used masks to embolden themselves and to evade law enforcement," DAB said.

The radical protesters' masking has brought great difficulties for police's law enforcement and has posed a serious threat to social peace and people's safety, it said.

The group called on all Hong Kong residents to support and abide by the new regulation, draw a clear line with illegal and violent acts and jointly support the strict law enforcement of the police, so as to curb violence and chaos and bring Hong Kong back on track.

The Chinese General Chamber of Commerce, one of the major chambers of commerce in Hong Kong, said in a statement that the decision of the HKSAR government to establish the new law is reasonable under such extreme conditions.

Similar laws have been proved effective in many Western countries in preventing violent protesters from evading legal obligations, and the punishment in some countries are very heavy, the chamber said.

"Many police officers and residents were injured in the escalated violence, but the police could not bring all the rioters to justice as most of them wore masks to hide their identities," said Elsie Leung, former secretary for justice of the HKSAR government.

Leung said the new law aims to address the rampant violence and will be a great help to end the unrest and restore order in Hong Kong.

The establishment of the anti-mask law is in line with the Basic Law and the Hong Kong Bill of Rights Ordinance, Leung said, adding that it is the right thing that should be done.

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