Subversion bill loses support as legislators try to delete parts

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 09 January, 1997, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 09 January, 1997, 12:00am

The chances of the controversial subversion law being approved were thrown into doubt yesterday.

The four Association for Democracy and People's Livelihood legislators said they might try to delete crucial parts of the draft bill.

Without the support of the four, only 26 legislators - the Democratic Party and independents - out of 60 support the legislation.

The bill defines the concepts of subversion and secession, not provided for under current law, but required by Article 23 of the Basic Law.

During a committee meeting studying the Crimes (Amendment) Bill, the ADPL's Bruce Liu Sing-lee said he did not believe Legco had the power to legislate on Article 23.

He asked the council's legal adviser whether Article 23 allows authorities other than the Special Administrative Region government to enact laws to prevent treason, secession, sedition and subversion.

If the legal adviser confirmed this, he would propose deleting the sections on subversion and secession.

The ADPL legislators also sit on the provisional legislature, which will rule on subversion after the handover.

However, The Frontier legislator Emily Lau Wai-hing disagreed with Mr Liu.

She said the Government had been allowed to legislate on the theft of state secrets - also part of Article 23 - after the Chinese and the British governments had reached a consensus. 'It would be a political decision rather than a legal one if we are prevented from legislating on subversive acts,' she said.

Principal Assistant Secretary for Security Andrew Kluth said the Government's legislating on the concepts would not stop the SAR government doing so.

Legislators also said there were grey areas might mean expression of views was an offence.

Democrat legislator Cheung Man-kwong said wording such as 'intention', 'incites', 'inspires' or 'attempts' resembled the law in China under which Wang Dan and Wei Jingsheng were jailed for expressing their opinions.

Mr Kluth said: 'I can give you assurances that it [expression of political views] would not constitute an unlawful act.'