Bar branded 'frivolous' for questioning public-order law

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 11 October, 2000, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 11 October, 2000, 12:00am

A senior pro-Beijing adviser accused the Bar Association yesterday of jumping to hasty conclusions about the Public Order Ordinance.

'As a professional organisation, it would have been more appropriate [for the Bar Association] to conduct more in-depth research before expressing its opinions; it looked frivolous,' said Tsang Hin-chi, a member of the National People's Congress Standing Committee.

Mr Tsang said it was not necessary to change the ordinance, and warned of possible 'chaos' if it was scrapped.

Protest organisers must notify police seven days in advance of marches of more than 30 people or assemblies of more than 50. Marches must receive a notice of no-objection, but if no notice has been received 48 hours before the protest, it is assumed it can go ahead.

On Monday, the association said police had singled out students for arrest in two protests. It said there had been hundreds of other meetings and demonstrations since the handover that had not complied with the ordinance. It asked whether the law governing protests complied with the right to assembly and freedom of expression under the Basic Law and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

Association chairman Ronny Tong Ka-wah SC, who is in Beijing with a 20-member delegation, said last night he welcomed further discussion if anyone thought the group's opinions were not 'in-depth' enough, but he said the association had conducted research and engaged in a serious debate before issuing the statement.

The association's opinion was based on constitutional and legal points. It was 'certainly not politically motivated', he said.

Earlier in the day, Executive Council convenor Leung Chun-ying said the ordinance did not violate the Basic Law or the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

He said the law had been amended in the provisional legislature in 1997 after a thorough process of consultation. Most of the 38 submissions received by the Government at the time were in support of the law, he said.




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