Hong Kong May Prohibit Insults of Public Officials, Reports Say

Hong Kong’s government is considering introducing legislation that would prohibit insulting public officials, local media reported, as concerns grow about China’s erosion of basic freedoms in the city.

The city’s Security Bureau is leading a study on the legislation and would oversee it should it come into effect, the Hong Kong Economic Journal and Now TV reported on Wednesday, citing Civil Service Secretary Patrick Nip. Hong Kong’s government would be examining the issue and there was no other information to report, the outlets said.

Such legislation would be the biggest step yet to curtail freedom of speech in Hong Kong following China’s imposition of a sweeping national security law that has been used to snuff out dissent in the wake of mass street protests in 2019. Beijing also imposed a patriotism test to disqualify pro-democracy lawmakers, a move that prompted opposition members in the Legislative Council to resign en masse in November.

Earlier this month, Hong Kong’s top court ordered that media tycoon and democracy activist Jimmy Lai remain in jail ahead of his trial on foreign collusion charges, a victory for Beijing that suggested Hong Kong judges were unlikely to challenge the security law. Hong Kong police also separately arrested Lai for assisting in an activist’s attempt to flee to Taiwan, the Oriental Daily reported on Wednesday, without citing anyone.

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