Media warning defended by NPC deputy

PUBLISHED : Monday, 17 April, 2000, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 17 April, 2000, 12:00am

A warning to the media over reporting views on Taiwan independence was not consistent with the Basic Law, a pro-Beijing politician said yesterday.

But Maria Tam Wai-chu, a member of the influential Basic Law Committee, was quick to defend the warning by Wang Fengchao, deputy director of the central Government's Liaison Office, formerly Xinhua.

'I am not saying he has violated the Basic Law but his concept of 'one country' is not the same as in the international covenants stipulated in the Basic Law,' Ms Tam told RTHK's City Forum.

She did not elaborate but appeared to be referring to Article 39 of the Basic Law. The article says the rights and freedoms enjoyed by Hong Kong residents shall not be restricted unless prescribed by law; such restrictions must not contravene the provisions of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

Ms Tam, a National People's Congress deputy, said she did not mean Mr Wang had been wrong to make the remarks.

Despite protests about the warning, Ms Tam said it was not surprising the official had a firm view on the issue.

'As it's only two years since the handover, it's not surprising that Mr Wang's remarks have not yet reached the stage similar to 'a fruit falls when it is ripe',' she said.

She was referring to the analogy used by senior National People's Congress official Qiao Xiaoyang when asked when an anti-subversion law should be introduced in the SAR.

She said Mr Wang's comments resulted from his personal obligations. Mr Wang said the media ought not to report views advocating Taiwan's independence.

But Martin Lee Chu-ming, chairman of the Democratic Party, said Mr Wang's remarks were not simply his personal views.

'He [Mr Wang] certainly has the intention of telling the local media to exercise self-censorship,' he said.

Mr Lee questioned why Ms Tam was defending Mr Wang in such an 'obscure' manner.

About 30 people from 25 religious groups and district organisations marched to the Liaison Office, protesting against Mr Wang.