Bar 'rushed through' terror-law criticism

PUBLISHED : Monday, 15 July, 2002, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 15 July, 2002, 12:00am

A senior security official has accused the Bar Association of 'rushing through' its criticism of the newly enacted anti-terror legislation, but denied the bill was itself hurried through Legco.

Pro-democracy legislators have criticised the law, which was passed on Friday, for containing a number of loopholes they say could trap innocent people.

The law allows the government to name someone as a 'terrorist' and gives officials the power to seize funds and property if they have reason to believe such people are linked to terrorism.

On the eve of the bill's debate, the Bar issued a press release criticising the law for shortcomings and said it deplored a lack of consultation and the government's decision to rush the bill through.

Speaking at RTHK's City Forum yesterday, acting Secretary for Security Timothy Tong Hin-ming said: 'I think your expression of regret was the real thing rushed through, not our legislation.

'The government has listened to many voices in society. We have made many amendments. we don't feel the legislating and amendment process was a rush because we achieved a very big consensus.'

During the 11-hour debate in Legco last week, Secretary for Security Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee also criticised the Bar and questioned why it had not made its views known earlier.

Alan Leong Kah-kit, chairman of the Bar, said the Legco bills committee had only asked for its views 10 days before the bill's passage.

'The Security Bureau has never directly consulted us since the bill's tabling in April, and it has never launched any public consultation. We have tried our best,' he said.

Mr Leong said the law gave too much discretionary power to the authorities and posed a danger to the innocent.

Secretary for Justice Elsie Leung Oi-sie also denied the law was rushed through Legco and said it was not designed to target any local dissident groups, a concerned raised by critics.

'It doesn't matter whether you are Falun Gong or not, you cannot commit these [terrorist] crimes. The aim of the law is not to target these groups but to target terrorism. If you are not a terrorist, you should not worry.'