The Legislative Assembly (AL) yesterday unanimously passed the outline of a bill proposing amendments to Macao’s national security law, which aims to strengthen the government’s ability to prevent external forces from interfering in local affairs.
The bill also aims to close loopholes in the current version of the national security law, thereby ensuring that Macao’s legal system will be as capable of safeguarding national security as the legislation in mainland China and Hong Kong.
Secretary for Security Wong Sio Chak introduced the outline of the amendment bill during a plenary session in the legislature’s hemicycle yesterday.
The amendment bill will be passed to a standing committee for article-by-article review, after which it will be resubmitted to another plenary session for its second and final debate and article-by-article vote.
Macao enacted its national security law – the Law on Safeguarding National Security – in 2009, based on the Article 23 requirement of the Macao Basic Law.
Macao’s national security law, Law 2/2009, has not been amended since its enactment in early 2009.
Article 23 of the Macao Basic Law states that Macao shall enact laws, on its own, to prohibit any act of treason, secession, sedition, subversion against the Central People’s Government, or theft of state secrets, to prohibit foreign political organisations or bodies from conducting political activities in the city, and to prohibit political organisations or bodies in Macao from establishing ties with foreign political organisations or bodies.
During yesterday’s plenary session, Wong said that the security landscape globally and in countries and regions surrounding Macao has seen profound changes over the past decade or so since the implementation of the local national security law. Given the ongoing interrelation of traditional security threats and non-traditional ones, Wong said, the security and development of the nation including Macao are facing new and more serious challenges.
Wong underlined that Macao’s national security law needs to be improved with the aim of enabling the government to fulfil its constitutional responsibility required by Article 23 of the Macao Basic Law, and to comply with the central government’s approach to national security.
Consequently, Wong pointed out, the Macao government carried out a public consultation between 22 August and 5 October this year on the draft of its national security law’s amendment bill. Afterwards, the government published a report on 7 November summarising the opinions and suggestions gathered during the public consultation process, Wong noted, underlining that the government has drafted the amendment bill after fully studying the opinions and suggestions submitted during the consultation process.
Wong underlined that the government expects the improved version of the national security law to become the “fundamental and core” law of Macao’s legal system on the protection of national security, a change from the current version which is merely a penal law that punishes offences endangering national security, he said.
Wong said that the amended version of the national security law will enable the government to better prevent the occurrence of crimes endangering national security, a change from the current version which generally only enables the government to punish offences that have already been committed, he said.
In addition, Wong said, the amended version of the law will enable the government to more effectively prevent external forces from interfering in the affairs of Macao.
According to Wong, the amendment bill proposes to extend the scope of certain existing criminal offences listed in the national security law, as well as to add a new criminal offence to the law.
Wong said that the bill proposes to “improve” the scope and definition of the crime of secession, as defined by Article 2 of the current version of Law 2/2009, and the crime of sedition, as enshrined in Article 4 of the law’s current version.
The bill, according to Wong, also proposes that subversion targeting the Central People’s Government, as defined by Article 3 of the current national security law, should be extended to subversion against the political power ruling the nation.
In addition, Wong said, the amendment bill proposes to add the new crime of instigating or supporting sedition.
Moreover, the amendment bill also proposes to change the name of the crime of “theft of state secrets”, as defined by Article 5 of the current version of Law 2/2009, to “violation of state secrets”, Wong said.
The amendment bill proposes that secession or subversion by any illegal means, including non-violent illegal means, will also be punishable, a change from the current version of the national security law which only punishes the two crimes by violent or other grave illegal means, The Macau Post Daily reported.