To:All Press and Media
From:Netherlands for Hong Kong

Netherlands for Hong Kong Statement Against the Use of Emergency Regulation Ordinance

On 4th October, the Hong Kong Government has utilized the Emergency Regulations Ordinance (Cap.241) to issue a city-wide ban of the use of facial covering including masks and face paints (Prohibition on Face Covering Regulation; “Prohibition”). This law has already come into effect since the midnight of 5th October, bypassing the normal legislative procedure [1]. The Hong Kong Government announced that the law will be evaluated by the Legislative Council later, when the meeting resumes after the Summer recess.

About the “Emergency Regulations Ordinance”

The Emergency Regulations Ordinance (ERO) originated in 1922 after the First World War, as a means by the British-Hong Kong Colonial Government to handle a large scale sailors’ strike at the time. The other two incidents when the ERO was utilized by the colonial government were during mass riots in 1956 and 1967, both more than half a century ago. The law has been carried over to the new Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government after the handover to Chinese rule. This ordinance, widely regarded as a remnant of colonialism, allows the Chief Executive of the Hong Kong Government, in conjunction with the Executive Council, to bypass the normal legislative process and issue emergency laws. This act can seriously violate fundamental human rights. The utilization of ERO includes but is not limited to censorship and control of communications [2], seizing and invasion of private properties [3], arrest and deportation [4], and enactment of laws as they see fit [5]. In effect, the Ordinance gives the Chief Executive unbalanced power which remains unexamined by the Legislative Council.

Emergency Regulations deteriorates the legislative system

Strange enough, the government responded to protests triggered by an authoritarian law with the creation of another even more nonsensical law. Not only is the “Prohibition” counterproductive in dealing with the ongoing protests, as evident by the massive unrest happened in the past weekend [6], it sets a precedent for the government to legislate for further encroachment of civil liberties. Hong Kong government has taken this chance of implementing “Prohibition” to show its administrative power totally overruling the entire legislative system.
In fact, Carrie Lam admitted herself that “the invocation of the Emergency Regulations Ordinance does not mean that Hong Kong has entered a state of emergency,” during the same press conference where the Prohibition of Face Covering Regulation was announced. This makes the enactment of the “Prohibition” a blatant violation of the Basic Law, the “mini-constitution” of Hong Kong. According to Article 56 of the Basic Law, the Chief Executive could only bypass the normal legislative procedure in “adoption of measures in emergencies”. It is not unimaginable that Carrie Lam’s government will further enact even more stringent yet unreasonable laws as the protests continue. Ironically, the government who blames the protestors for degrading the rule of law has opened the Pandora’s box towards a totalitarian police state as police has been given excessive power using “Prohibition” for arrests.

Carrie Lam Fanning the Fire

For almost four months, citizens of Hong Kong have been protesting against a government who obviously disregards the voices of the people. Carrie Lam claims to offer an open dialogue with protesters, yet at the same time allows the police force to subdue protesters with lethal weapons and enacts laws to further suppress the freedom of speech and protest.

The Five Demands of the Hong Kong people, which remain unchanged since July, have been loud and clear. We condemn the Hong Kong Government for ignoring the demands of its citizens. We urge the Hong Kong Government to resolve the conflict by responding to the demands of its citizens, to immediately withdraw the Prohibition of Face Covering Regulation, and to stop the use of the totalitarian Emergency Regulations Ordinance. We also urge the Dutch government and European Union to put pressure on the Hong Kong Government via political and economic means, in regard to its violation of human rights and increasing threats to the safety and properties of Dutch and European nationals.

Five Demands | Not One Less
Stand with Hong Kong | Fight for Freedom

[2] Cap 241, s2.2a,
[3] Cap 241, s2.2f,h,k,
[4] Cap 241, s2.2b,
[5] Cap 241, s2.2g,n, [6]