Queries over sedition law left unenforced

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 20 July, 1997, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 20 July, 1997, 12:00am

THE Government appears to have yet to decide when the controversial ordinance on sedition should come into effect, following its amendment by the ousted legislative council.

Delaying the legislation indefinitely could be unconstitutional, ousted Democratic Party legislator James To Kun-sun.

Subversion and secession, together with the act of treason, were scrapped from the Crimes (Amendment) (No 2) Ordinance by the ousted legislature - to pre-empt post-handover mainland attempts to define subversive activities.

And the offence of sedition was more narrowly defined where 'intention of causing violence or creating public disorder or a public disturbance' was required.

Tung Chee-hwa has said that the bill would be reviewed by the provisional legislature or the first legislature to be elected in May next year.

Meanwhile, the Executive Council decided there was no need to freeze the ordinance, which should come into operation on a day appointed by the Secretary for Security. No date has been fixed so far and Mr To queried the need to delay the bill.

'The police need time to prepare for the implications of the ordinance on interception of communication. But I don't see the administration has similar needs for the crime ordinance.

'It would be unconstitutional if they delayed it indefinitely as the executive has to implement laws passed by the legislature,' he said.

Provisional legislator Kennedy Wong Ying-ho said he did not see any problem in the ordinance becoming effective now.

'There have been very few sedition cases in the past and therefore the provision has been rarely applied,' he said.

Provisional legislature president Rita Fan Hsu Lai-tai said the ordinance should not be handled by the interim body. The matter should be examined by the first legislature after the elections.