Repeal of outdated ordinance delayed

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 26 January, 1999, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 26 January, 1999, 12:00am

An obsolete ordinance on smuggling into the mainland is being saved from the scrapheap as a row brews over how it should be repealed.

Lawmakers refused to accept the Security Bureau's view the law should be dropped because it did not conform with the post-handover status.

While legislators agreed the law was no longer useful, they warned it would 'politicise the law' if it was repealed under the adaptation of laws exercise.

The Smuggling into China (Control) Ordinance, enacted 51 years ago, gives effect to a 1948 Sino-British agreement.

Signed by the then Nationalist Government, the agreement with Britain was never ratified by the communists, Principal Assistant Secretary for Security Carrie Willis said.

And as Hong Kong was no longer a British colony, the purpose of the law was thus 'totally spent', Mrs Willis said.

A Security Bureau paper tabled at yesterday's Legco bill committee meeting said: 'The 1948 agreement is irrelevant for Hong Kong and the continued implementation of that agreement is incompatible with the present status of the SAR.' It said repealing the law by way of the adaptation bill would be 'efficient use of legislative time'.

Bill committee chairman Margaret Ng Ngoi-yee said: 'The background of the drafting of an ordinance is irrelevant.

'It is a dangerous precedent that we should repeal a law because of its inappropriate origin. It is politics. It is not law.' She asked the bureau for a rethink.