A resident signs in a street campaign in support of national security legislation for Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) in Hong Kong, south China, May 23, 2020. (Xinhua/Li Gang)
Hong Kong residents voiced their support on Sunday for the national security legislation put forward by China's top legislature, hoping it can restore peace in the city and free it from the street violence that put businesses and people's livelihoods in great peril.
Meanwhile, a petition in support of the legislation launched on Saturday in Hong Kong received signatures from over 490,000 people by 9:30 pm Sunday.
Pang Shun-mee, a 77-year-old former civil servant who was among the signatories, said "heavy penalties are the right medicine to treat a chaotic society".
He said Hong Kong needs such a resolution as the city has been suffering from violence and chaos triggered by "traitors" and a small group of rioters who have lost their sense of national identity.
Pang said they should be severely punished by the forthcoming national security law.
"These people are trying to deprive other people of their rights for their own political gains and sacrifice other people's freedom for their own freedom," he said.
A European banker based in Hong Kong, who asked to remain anonymous, dismissed speculation that a national security law would be a blow to Hong Kong's status as a financial center.
"If the law contributes to the safety and security of the city, I personally would welcome it," he said. "The financial sector always prefers a stable environment."
He said the violence and instability caused by the protests were the main reasons many banks had left the city since June.
The banker said he was not worried about the business environment in Hong Kong even if the legislation causes short-term market volatility, as some who oppose it have predicted.
Banks that leave will come back, in the same way that some banks that left before 1997, when the city was returned to China, moved back to Hong Kong when they realized the only change was broader opportunities, he said. In fact, more banks have come to the city for business since that year, he said.
The signature campaign, launched both online and through 133 street booths across the city, was initiated by a coalition consisting of over 2,000 political, social, business and education leaders in Hong Kong.
Wendy Ma, a local resident in her 30s, was a volunteer at one of the street booths in North Point, on Hong Kong Island.
Ma, a wedding planner, was a victim of the protests that began in June. Orders were slashed and pre-booked events had to be canceled as popular wedding banquet venues in Tsim Sha Tsui and Causeway Bay, the city's major commercial districts, were often targets of the radicals.
Ma said the legislation would effectively deter the opposition camp and those who condone the violence that has wreaked havoc in Hong Kong.
During a ceremony to promote the campaign on Sunday morning, one of the conveners, pro-establishment Hong Kong legislator Starry Lee Waiking, stressed that the National People's Congress' decision to introduce the national security legislation for the city was necessary to address legal loopholes and ensure the wellbeing of the people.