TUNG'S POWERS TO TAKE 'EXTREME MEASURES' CURBED IN CHANGES TO PUBLIC ORDER
The ability of Tung Chee-hwa to declare a curfew and take other extreme measures will be curbed under two bills gazetted yesterday.
The Government proposals would mean that several sections of the Public Order Ordinance giving him wide powers in an emergency will be changed to state he needs to consult Exco.
Among the powers curtailed will be declaring a curfew, which requires everyone to stay indoors unless they have a police permit either permanently or at certain hours.
At present, the lawbook states Mr Tung can do this on his own 'if he is satisfied it is in the interests of public order to do so'.
Similar restrictions will be placed on his power to close the port or airport, and create 'closed areas' surrounded by barricades with entry by permit only.
At present the lawbook states Mr Tung can create closed areas if it is 'necessary for the protection of national security or public safety, or the protection of public order or public health'.
A Security Branch spokesman said the creating of curfews or closed areas effectively amounted to creating subsidiary legislation - and under Article 56 of the Basic Law, the Chief Executive must consult Exco on any decision requiring subordinate legislation.
No such restriction was placed on colonial governors. The Public Order Ordinance has long been criticised by human rights groups as allowing extreme measures to be taken without clear reasons.
The bills alter 27 security-related laws which have colonial terms in their text. The majority of the changes merely reflect the new post-handover legal system, such as removing the word 'colony' and replacing it with 'Hong Kong'.