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Debating Hong Kong Covid Policy ‘Doesn’t Violate Security Law’

Caspar Tsui, home affairs secretary, tendered his resignation over his attendance at a karaoke party that defied the territory’s strict pandemic rules on social distancing, HK01 reported

Hong Kong
People wearing face masks to prevent the spread of the coronavirus walk on a street in Hong Kong. Photo: Reuters


Questioning Hong Kong’s so-called “dynamic zero” policy to fight the coronavirus pandemic would not violate the Chinese territory’s controversial National Security Law, the government said on Sunday.

A spokesman said that making general remarks and discussion about the policy is not illegal, and that dynamic “zero infection” is the most effective way to fight against the epidemic and protect public health and safety.

The “dynamic zero” strategy is the principal alternative to “living with Covid-19” pursued by some countries.

“It involves an attempt to control and eliminate every incidence of Covid-19 infection,” C Saratchand, professor of economics at the University of Delhi, told China’s CGTN on Saturday.

The Hong Kong government spokesman said that the pandemic remains severe, and there is a continuous increase in the number of cases involving mutant Omicron strains that carry higher transmissibility.

“Hong Kong must cut the transmission chains as quickly as possible, with an aim of achieving dynamic zero infection, otherwise the consequences could be dire,” he said.

Official Reportedly Quits

One of Hong Kong’s most senior officials has resigned over his attendance at a karaoke party that defied the territory’s strict pandemic rules on social distancing, local media reported on Sunday.

Caspar Tsui, the home affairs secretary, tendered his resignation to Carrie Lam, the chief executive, HK01 reported.

Lam said last week that she had ordered Tsui not to return to work until a disciplinary investigation is completed into his attendance at the birthday party.

The party has embarrassed Lam and Hong Kong officials seeking a reopening of the border with the rest of China. More than a dozen other officials also joined the party on January 3, but Tsui is the only one still off work, Lam said.

Lam said an investigation into the party is almost finished, and she would try to announce the findings before the lunar new year. She said it would not be appropriate or fair for her to disclose more information regarding individuals linked to the party.

Internal Investigation

“So this is not a homogeneous group,” Lam told reporters. “In other words, one would not expect that the internal investigation would come to the same conclusions and hence the same sanctions for all the 15 officials as a group.”

Lam said last week that she would need to take a deeper look into Tsui’s involvement in the controversy.

“The secretary for home affairs is an official whom we have to look into very deeply. He had stayed long, I already told you that he was one of those who stayed for a pretty long period during a pretty late time of the dinner party,” she said.

“And of course his position is the secretary for home affairs, who is involved in the anti-epidemic operation of the … government.”

A guest at the party for National People’s Congress deputy Witman Hung was later found to have Covid-19. The discovery led to quarantine orders for officials and lawmakers who were among more than 200 people present.


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George Russell

George Russell is a freelance writer and editor based in Hong Kong who has lived in Asia since 1996. His work has been published in the Financial Times, The Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, New York Post, Variety, Forbes and the South China Morning Post.


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