DAB backs subversion curbs

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 07 May, 1998, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 07 May, 1998, 12:00am

DAB candidates for Legco would back a law banning the advocacy of treason, secession, sedition and subversion.

The legislation, under Article 23 of the Basic Law, is expected to be one of the most controversial bills to be scrutinised by the maiden legislature, with activists expressing fears that it would be used to restrict human rights.

According to a survey by the South China Morning Post, candidates were split on having laws to ban treason, secession, sedition and subversion.

The candidates were equally divided on whether advocacy of such ideas should be outlawed.

Article 23 says the SAR has to enact laws to prohibit acts of treason, secession, sedition and subversion against the Central People's Government. But it does not touch on the question of advocacy of such ideas.

Of the 37 replies received, candidates from the Democratic Party, The Frontier, the Association for Democracy and People's Livelihood and the Citizens Party have said they would object to banning advocacy of the ideas.

Others include non-affiliated candidates Dr Leong Che-hung and Chan Ki-tak, both eyeing the Medical functional seat, and Dominic Chan Choi-hi seeking the Wholesale and Retail seat, Ng Yat-wah and Chan Yun-che of the Labour seats, as well as Andrew Wong Wang-fat in New Territories East.

The DAB party line - in replies from seven out of 26 candidates - was backed by Engineering candidate Peter Wong King-keung and Election Committee candidate Ho Ka-cheong.

Provisional legislature President Rita Fan Hsu Lai-tai said the SAR was 'dutybound to make laws in accordance with . . . Article 23'. She did not answer the questionnaire.

DAB candidate Yeung Yiu-chung said legislation should stipulate to what extent one could advocate the ideas banned under Article 23.

'[Advocacy] should be defined clearly,' he said.

But the director of Human Rights Monitor, Law Yuk-kai, said there was no need to ban advocacy, noting that national integrity was not under imminent threat. He warned that attempts to outlaw the advocacy of certain ideas might easily be turned into a clampdown on freedom of expression.