The worries linger but business is reassured

PUBLISHED : Friday, 14 February, 2003, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 14 February, 2003, 12:00am

Business groups felt reassured by the contents of the bill. But some voiced lingering concerns over specific parts of the legislation, including the need for clearer definitions.

Christopher Hammerbeck, executive director of the British Chamber of Commerce, who had voiced fears over the government's original proposals, was satisfied with most of what was in the bill.

'We're pleased to see on the whole the government has taken account of many reservations we expressed in response to the consultation. However, there are some points of clarity we feel should be taken account of.'

The definition of subversion includes intimidating the government, but Mr Hammerbeck said the word 'intimidate' should be more carefully spelled out.

With regard to the theft of state secrets, he said there was uncertainty over leaks of sensitive information by official sources.

The American Chamber of Commerce said it was not worried about the legislation although it was upset about the way it was being rushed through.

'It's kind of a mixed emotion,' said chairman James Thompson. 'We're happy they made the changes they did . . . [but] we continue to be disappointed there wasn't a white bill.'

He added that the chamber was not fearful of the legislation, and did not believe it would discourage investment.

Better Hong Kong Foundation chief executive George Yuen Kam-ho said: 'I am satisfied with what has been said. I see there have been some amendments that help to improve the free flow of information.' He was referring to fears from business groups about whether the legislation would restrict the transmission of financial information. It is stated in the bill that 'the free flow of economic and commercial information will not be affected'.