HONG KONG — In what can only be seen as a massive leap toward an even more authoritarian society, struggling Chief Executive Carrie Lam plans to announce a new law that would ban face masks during public assemblies.
The anti-mask consideration comes after mounting pressure from Beijing to curb the continued anti-government protests which began in March, protests which Carrie Lam has been failing miserably at suppressing.
The law itself will be forced through legislation by invoking a colonial-era emergency law, which was introduced in 1922.
The draconian-type legislation permits the city's leader the power to "make any regulations whatsoever which he or she may consider desirable in the public interest" in the face of "emergency or public danger."
According to The South China Morning Post, if the Executive Council approves the anti-mask law, the government will make the announcement today, with the ban taking effect "within a short time."
A quick-fire warning from legal experts advises that utilizing the undemocratic emergency law would be another step toward an authoritarian society, thus making way for further tyrannical regulations.
The Junior Police Officer's Association, which is the largest police group in Hong Kong, pleaded with the government to impose the repressive emergency law or to enforce a curfew.
The chairman of the police group, Lam Chi-wai said that implementing the mask ban would be challenging, however, he added that it would be, "irresponsible not to introduce the law just because the police might experience difficulties while on duty."
Ronny Tong Ka-wah, an adviser to Carrie Lam said, "If we do nothing, some would think the government is incapable and has no will to solve the crisis."
The mask ban hopes to prevent mass protests from breaking out, but Jimmy Sham Tsz-kit, convenor of the Civil Human Rights Front believes, "repression will only make people more flexible and unpredictable when they protest."