Law body 'needed to avoid vacuum'

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 21 May, 1997, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 21 May, 1997, 12:00am

The Basic Law committee will have to operate before the handover if a set of Chinese national laws are to be applied to Hong Kong from July 1, Preparatory Committee member Maria Tam Wai-chu said.

Ms Tam said there would be a legal vacuum if the National People's Congress Standing Committee failed to approve the addition of national laws which would apply to the region.

Under the Basic Law, the NPC standing body has to consult the Basic Law committee and the SAR government over any change to the annex of a list of six national laws passed in 1990.

The Preparatory Committee legal sub-group yesterday suggested five more national laws adopted since 1990 would apply to the SAR.

The five deal with the national flag, consular privileges and immunities, the national emblem, territorial waters and the adjacent zone, and stationing of troops.

'If we do not do so, we will have no idea how the Garrison Law will be enacted, whether a consul has privilege or not and how the line of the territorial sea will de drawn. That is, there will be a legal vacuum,' Ms Tam, a sub-group member, said.

'Therefore, if you hope to have these laws put into effect as soon as possible after July 1, the Basic Law Committee has to be formed and start discussion before that day.' Ms Tam, a barrister, dismissed the suggestion she was proposing a provisional Basic Law committee, stressing it would operate officially only after July 1.

'If there is such a committee in future and there is a legal procedure that puts it into effect, everyone can freely give their views,' she said.