2.45 am, July 1: time to lay down the laws

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 15 June, 1997, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 15 June, 1997, 12:00am

THE provisional legislature will hold its first Hong Kong meeting in the Convention and Exhibition Centre at 2.45 am on July 1.

It will feature the tabling of a 'reunification bill' to ratify at least 10 laws passed by the body before the handover.

They include the controversial Public Order and Societies ordinances which will tighten restrictions on demonstrations.

Provisional legislature president Rita Fan Hsu Lai-tai said holding the meeting at the handover ceremony venue rather than the Legislative Council chamber would keep any possible legal vacuum to an absolute minimum.

'Since a major purpose of the Reunification Bill is to confirm laws passed before July 1, the meeting must be held at the earliest instance upon the establishment of the Special Administrative Region,' she said.

Traffic was also a concern, but not possible protests, she claimed.

'The provisional legislature is worried about nothing. We will face the public, as well as the people who are against us.' Provisional legislators yesterday voted down amendments to the Public Order Ordinance and Societies Ordinance designed to make the laws less restrictive.

The attempt by Dominic Chan Choi-hi to abolish both the need to apply to hold demonstrations and the notion of 'national security' as a reason were voted down by 40 votes to four.

Only eight members backed an amendment moved by Bruce Liu Sing-lee seeking to stop China financing local political groups.

Passage of the ordinances led to criticism from Democrats.

'This is a clear sign of things to come. These changes to our laws represent a step backwards for freedom and will revive colonial restrictions on the exercise of basic rights,' a spokesman said.