Community must have ample time to scrutinise new law
Solicitor-General Bob Allcock sought to justify the consultation between the central and the SAR governments over Article 23 ('Legislative power not reduced by one iota', South China Morning Post, November 16).
I would remind Mr Allcock that consultation with the people of Hong Kong is even more important as the proposed legislation will affect our personal freedom. The first concern of all SAR government officials should be the interests of Hong Kong people whom they have undertaken to serve.
The issue is not whether the new legislation should be passed, but whether it will undermine the civic liberties guaranteed by the Basic Law, the Joint Declaration and the Bill of Rights Ordinance. Thus it is necessary to give our community ample opportunities to scrutinise what is being proposed.
The SAR government must address the worries of local residents that the law might be misused or abused. It must reassure the community that the provisions are so clear that there is no such danger. The public consultation should therefore be carried out wisely and with great sensitivity.
The international community is already concerned with Hong Kong maintaining its dollar peg, the rule of law and a level playing field and with its budget deficit and high unemployment. It will not be wise to further erode its confidence in Hong Kong as foreign nationals here may also be affected.
The normal procedure for important legislation such as this is for the government to publish a white paper setting out arguments for and against its proposals and a white bill setting out the actual wording of the proposed legislation for public scrutiny. The present consultation document does not achieve this.
The government should follow the normal procedure and thereby avoid any misconception that it is pushing through the legislation with indecent haste. Such an approach will also demonstrate that it is an open, transparent and responsible government as it has avowed to be.
WINSTON K. S. CHU