Needed: a white bill

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 16 September, 2003, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 16 September, 2003, 12:00am

I am surprised and a little concerned that Xu Kuangdi, a vice-chairman of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, felt that the rally on July 1 was a bad thing ('Beijing has never been so worried about HK', September 11).

His comment appears to contradict one of the core, indeed founding, principles of popular movements such as the Communist Party to which Mr Xu belongs - that the people are the sovereign source of all political authority. Indeed, the name the People's Republic of China embodies this principle most graphically.

At the rally, the voice of the people was clearly raised in opposition to proposed legislation on subversion and sedition. Once again, protests of this kind have long been regarded as central to popular movements such as communism, and have traditionally been instrumental in shaping policy. It is therefore doubly strange that the rally should be described as a bad thing.

What might more reasonably be described as a bad thing is the Hong Kong government's decision to shelve the Article 23 legislation. Since it had only recently announced that a consultation paper comprising the full text of the proposed legislation (in its 'blue bill' version) would be published, one is left wondering just what the government's intentions are.

Because the devil is in the details of the security legislation, and because it has the potential to affect many sectors in swingeing ways, it is essential that the full text be issued and the public consulted via a white bill.

If our chief executive and the central government are truly committed to such people-power, then the evidence of this will be that when the bill is reintroduced, vigorous discussion and debate is encouraged through the publication of a white bill.

Anything less than a white bill will show up the true colours of the few who decide our destiny, and would assuredly be a very bad thing.