Published: 18:30, April 3, 2024 | Updated: 12:58, April 8, 2024
National security laws need effective implementation
By Bankee Kwan and Philip Wong

In a display of unity, lawmakers in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region unanimously passed the Safeguarding National Security Ordinance (the Ordinance) on March 19, fulfilling the city’s long-overdue constitutional obligation. There is no doubt that enactment of a comprehensive national security law is all the more imperative in an increasingly precarious global geopolitical landscape. The significance of completion of Article 23 legislation cannot be overestimated. But for the new law to be effectively implemented, we need to have a full understanding of all three aspects of law enforcement, including engineering of, education on and enforcement of the law. 

In the realm of law and policy, the engineering of, the education on, and the enforcement of the law are the three pillars that facilitate the effective implementation of legal frameworks. Each pillar plays a crucial role in ensuring the success of laws and policies. 

Engineering, as applied to law and policy, encompasses the design and development of systems, infrastructure, and mechanisms necessary for the smooth implementation of legal frameworks. This involves creating robust governance structures, secure technological platforms, and supportive tools that facilitate the enforcement and monitoring of laws and policies.

Education, in the context of law and policy, focuses on the dissemination of knowledge and awareness regarding the existence and implications of laws and policies. It involves conducting public awareness campaigns, offering training programs, and promoting legal literacy among individuals, communities, and other stakeholders. By enhancing understanding and engagement, education empowers individuals to make informed decisions, actively participate in civic matters, and comply with legal requirements.

Enforcement, the third pillar, encompasses the practical application of laws and policies. It involves establishing law enforcement agencies that are responsible for monitoring, investigating, and ensuring compliance. Compliance mechanisms, such as inspections and reporting systems, are established to monitor adherence to legal requirements. Additionally, appropriate sanctions and penalties are defined to deter noncompliance, ensuring the integrity and effectiveness of the legal framework.

By incorporating these three pillars into the development and implementation of laws and policies, the government can enhance their effectiveness and achieve the desired outcomes. Engineering ensures the creation of robust structures and systems; education fosters awareness and understanding among the public; and enforcement guarantees compliance through monitoring and appropriate consequences for noncompliance.

Within the context of national security legislation, the engineering aspect holds significant importance as it focuses on fortifying critical infrastructure against potential threats. In an era of rapidly advancing technology and evolving risks, it becomes vital for jurisdictions like Hong Kong to make strategic investments in technology.

Hong Kong recognizes the imperative to bolster its cybersecurity capabilities in order to effectively safeguard against ever-growing cyber threats. This entails the development and implementation of robust encryption technologies, advanced threat-detection systems, and fostering partnerships with industry experts. By proactively addressing cyber vulnerabilities, Hong Kong can fortify its digital infrastructure, ensuring the protection of sensitive information and preserving the integrity of its systems.

The establishment of reliable and secure communication networks is paramount for facilitating effective responses and coordination during crises. Hong Kong acknowledges the necessity of investing in resilient infrastructure, including systems and backup facilities, to maintain uninterrupted communication channels for law enforcement agencies and emergency services. By prioritizing the resilience of our communication networks, we bolster our ability to swiftly address security threats and safeguard the well-being of residents.

By adopting an engineering-focused approach to critical infrastructure protection, Hong Kong demonstrates its commitment to staying ahead of potential threats. Through investments in cybersecurity and resilient communication networks, the city can proactively mitigate risks and ensure the security and stability of its vital infrastructure.

Education plays a pivotal and transformative role in fostering a security-conscious society that comprehends the significance of national security and individual responsibilities. Therefore, the incorporation of national security education into the curriculum should be approached with careful planning and extensive consultation, involving various stakeholders.

Educational institutions have a crucial role in providing comprehensive education on national security, equipping students with a deep understanding of the threats Hong Kong faces and the importance of upholding our core values. By imparting knowledge about the diverse range of security challenges, such as terrorism, cybersecurity and social unrest, students can develop a heightened awareness of potential risks and contribute actively to building a safer and more-resilient community.

One essential aspect of national security education is to emphasize the ethical and legal dimensions of safeguarding our city. It is imperative to teach the principles of responsible residents, respect for human rights, and the importance of adhering to the rule of law. By instilling these values, individuals gain a comprehensive understanding of their rights and obligations, striking a delicate balance between ensuring security and preserving civil liberties. This approach empowers residents to make informed decisions, actively engage in civic affairs, and play a constructive role in maintaining a harmonious and secure society.

To ensure the effectiveness of national security education, it is essential to foster an inclusive and participatory environment. This can be achieved by involving educators, experts and community leaders in the development of curriculum framework and teaching materials. Furthermore, providing opportunities for open dialogue and critical thinking encourages students to explore different perspectives and develop their own informed opinions on national security matters.

By nurturing informed residents through comprehensive national security education, Hong Kong can cultivate a society that is not only aware of potential threats but also equipped to actively contribute to the collective safety and well-being of our city. It is through education that we foster a deep sense of responsibility and engagement, empowering individuals to safeguard our cherished values while addressing the evolving challenges of the modern world.

Effective enforcement of national security legislation hinges upon the presence of robust and well-equipped law enforcement agencies. Recognizing their pivotal role, it becomes imperative to provide these agencies with the necessary resources and support to enable them to fulfill their duties efficiently and effectively. By making strategic investments in law enforcement, we bolster our collective security and safeguard the well-being of our community.

An essential aspect of empowering law enforcement agencies is investing in intelligence gathering and analysis capabilities. By equipping them with advanced tools, technologies and resources, we enhance their ability to preempt and counter security threats. This proactive approach allows for early detection and mitigation of potential risks, ensuring the safety and stability of Hong Kong.

In order to address emerging security challenges effectively, it is crucial for law enforcement personnel to receive specialized training. This includes comprehensive and up-to-date instructions in areas such as counterterrorism, intelligence analysis, cybercrime investigation and crisis management. By investing in continuous professional development, we ensure that our officers are equipped with the necessary skills, knowledge and expertise to protect Hong Kong effectively. Ongoing training programs enable them to stay abreast of evolving threats, adapt to new methodologies, and employ best practices in their operations.

In conclusion, the Safeguarding National Security Ordinance stands as an indispensable measure for ensuring the long-term stability and security of Hong Kong. By embracing the pillars of engineering, education and enforcement, we forge a resilient society that prioritizes national security while preserving the rights and our core values. Through engineering, we fortify critical infrastructure against evolving threats. Through education, we foster a security-conscious society that actively protects Hong Kong. Through enforcement, we empower our law enforcement agencies with the necessary tools, training and intelligence capabilities to maintain peace and security. By uniting under this comprehensive approach, we pave the way for a prosperous future for Hong Kong and its people, securing a resilient and harmonious society for generations to come.

Bankee Kwan is a member of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference National Committee and president of the Federation of Hong Kong-Shanghai Associations.

Philip Wong is deputy director of the Pan Sutong Shanghai-Hong Kong Economic Policy Research Institute, Lingnan University.

The views do not necessarily reflect those of China Daily.