How to make a fit line between National Security and Civil Liberty? Mex Z

Before mentioning my personal opinion about the fit line, as well as the trade-off between National Security and the Civil Liberty, I would like to introduce my interpretation (not only the definition) of both National Security and the Civil Liberty.

For the National Security, it is in macro aspect for the sake of the country (not the leader of the country). Even though it is set by the political leader, the interest in the country is not equal to the interest of the political leader in a democracy country. If a political leader set some rule, policy or law, which is beneficial to the National Security, the starting point is at least encouraging, although it may be controversial and some detrimental effects emerged eventually. We cannot deny the starting point and the aim of the policy is praise-worthy. Hence, it is important for us to view the motivation. If the motivation is aiming at the country’s sake but not the sake of the personal reason of the political leader, it may be much more easily justified. Therefore, I would like to introduce the importance of democracy here, it is directly related to this issue. If the country is not democratic, the policy set by the leader may superficially said for the National Security, but actually for the political leader’s interest behind. Yet, it is relatively difficult to happen this situation in a democratic country.

For the Civil Liberty, it is assumed to be upheld because it is one of our universal core value and part of our human right globally and widely recognized. To say more specifically, liberty means individual privacy here. No one wants our privacy that is our personal data to be leaked, so it is understandable that we should defense for our Civil Liberty. No one rejects the importance of Civil Liberty, yet I think we should clarify what types of Civil Liberty we are pursuing. For instance, are we pursuing short-term Civil Liberty or long-term Civil Liberty? If we want to have a long-term Civil Liberty, then are we pursuing a relative Civil Liberty or an absolute Civil Liberty? Maybe our thinking is so idealistic, yet is it possible that we can possess an absolute and long-term Civil Liberty forever? I think it is impossible in nature. I am not saying we should paying the cost of privacy, yet we can find a better and acceptable way for striking a balance. Thinking a more reasonable way, I think that our Civil Liberty should be included in the National Security because every citizen is part of our country. Thus, we should not think in a negative way that we assume our political leader would deliberately dampen our Civil Liberty in some unnecessary way. Maybe we will understand the importance and relations between democracy and the issue (Civil Liberty) here, because if no democracy, we will not trust our government, like the Hong Kong government, then we will easily think in a negative way that our government is not aiming at our sake, hence we would be strongly eager to defense our Civil Liberty by ourselves, but not by our government.

The most important point, I think they should not be viewed in a contradictory stance. Without doubt, they may make a conflict sometimes, just like the case in Edward Snowden, or the recent Apple Company versus the US government. I hold a firm belief that some, sure not all of our individual interest, like privacy will be, and also should be sacrificed in order to build a more stable society. Actually, that stable and prosperous belongs to everyone, including the one who has sacrificed his or her own interest. Sure, the meaning of “stable and prosperous” should be well-recognized but not just only recognized by the government itself for a mean to dampen the freedom of press and speech. Hence, it trace back to the problem and importance of democracy again. My view is that actually both National Security and Civil Liberty have the same goal, which is uploading the universal core value, just in the different means. If the leader who emphasis the importance of National Security, but for the sake of citizens, I think it is definitely reasonable to give up part of our short-term Civil Liberty. Actually, we may get the long-term Civil Liberty, but paying the expense of short-term Civil Liberty. Actually, the motivation can justify some government behavior, but it can condemn some inappropriate way for censorship in the same time. Unfortunately, we may not have an absolutely objective standard or proof to check the motivation of some government behavior. Therefore, another problem emerged, whether we trust the government. Ironically, I think the nature of democracy is to enhance the transparency, yet it may not necessarily become a transparent government. For instance, the transparency may not be that significant in a democratic country so as to establish for the National Security. On the other hand, the transparency is really so important because it is the only way to monitor the government.

Last but not least, I think a better way can be improve the loophole of the problem of leaking our privacy, as part of our human right. I think more parties in various aspects, like the representative from Law, from Journalism, from non-governmental organization should be invited to make a joint group. They should be given some special power for monitoring the government, especially for the sensitive and controversial issue. Applying to the Edward Snowden case, I think more stakeholders and unbiased parties should be invited and discussed with Barack Obama for his project. “PRISM”. Undoubtedly, they have to sign some confidential contract so that the secret behavior of the government will not be leaked to the general public. Even though no one can guarantee the absolutely appropriate value-judgement of those stakeholders and unbiased parties, but at least it can guarantee that the power of executive, like the president can be checked in a more balanced way. Furthermore, I firmly believe that more stakeholders from various aspects would be more representative for the citizens from all walks of life. I hope the improvement can make a better balance between National Security and Civil Liberty in long-term.

(T2, Darren CHOW, UID: 3035197759)

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