Groups reassured on definition for bans

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 08 December, 2002, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 08 December, 2002, 12:00am

A tighter definition of the relationship between groups banned under national security laws on the mainland and organisations linked to them in Hong Kong will be adopted in the bill against subversion, a senior official said yesterday.

The Article 23 consultation paper originally proposed that if a local group is affiliated to a mainland group outlawed on national security grounds, the local group would be banned if it was also found to have endangered national security.

The Catholic Church has expressed worries that because it has established connections with mainland religious groups, it would be banned in Hong Kong if the proposal is passed.

Secretary for Security Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee said the definition of the relationship would be narrowed down to those that are subsidiaries of the mainland groups.

'There is no need for the religious groups to worry,' she said on RTHK's radio programme Party Forum.

But legislator Margaret Ng Ngoi-yee and former Bar Association head Ronny Tong Ka-wah said because a group was proscribed on the mainland that should not be used as a justification to consider if its subsidiary in the SAR should be banned.

'If the group has committed an act that endangered national security, this is sufficient to take action. There is no need to prove that it is a subsidiary of a mainland group that is banned on national security grounds,' Mr Tong said. 'Why do we have to threaten the people of Hong Kong?'

Ms Ng said: 'It is importing the definition of national security of the mainland. It will pose a threat to freedom of association.'

Meanwhile at a forum on the proposals, Executive Councillor Andrew Liao Cheung-sing said there was a need to legislate against subversion.

'The country protects you and you are obliged to protect the country in return,' he said.