Snooping law sets the scene for distrust and disharmony

PUBLISHED : Monday, 07 August, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 07 August, 2006, 12:00am

So, our pan-democratic legislators were defeated in their fight against the passage of the covert surveillance bill. Congratulations, Donald Tsang Yam-kuen, your divide-and-rule policy is working well - first winning you the Tamar complex and now hurrying this bill through in the heat of the summer recess. The Article 23 security legislation is being fed to us in bits, as former justice secretary Elsie Leung Oi-sie suggested, so that we swallow it more easily.

Our traitors in the Legislative Council did not heed the South China Morning Post's editorial appeal 'Lawmakers should reject snooping bill' (August 1), betraying our trust and failing in their duty to protect people from autocracy. They did not see fit even to get the proposed sunset clause included. All this proves our 'one country, two systems' is a joke played to expedite a smooth transition to Chinese rule.

So great was the opposition to Article 23 that 500,000 people took to the streets in 2003, forcing then security secretary Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee to resign. But vigilance is the price of liberty, and the government has kept us preoccupied for the past few months with Tamar and the proposed goods and services tax. Our administration and self-serving lawmakers have set the scene for distrust, discontent and disharmony.

A.L. NANIK, Tsim Sha Tsui

After watching the live broadcasts of the Legislative Council's debate on the covert surveillance bill, I am full of respect for the councillors and officials who sat tight late into the night. Most councillors could rest in the ante chambers when they did not have to speak or vote. But Legco President Rita Fan Hsu Lai-tai has had to sit through most of the debates. With literally hundreds of amendments proposed, one would have expected her to have superficial knowledge of most of them, yet her knowledge of the details shone through.

I have always wondered what put Secretary for Security Ambrose Lee Siu-kwong at the top of the opinion polls. Now, I guess it has something to do with his stamina and ability to resist the calls of nature. Unfortunately, he seemed out of his depth facing some of the legislators' arguments. Nor did he attempt to explain such things as why a judge authorising privacy-intrusion measures has to record his reasons only when he rejects a law-enforcement agency's application and not when he approves it.

Was it because the administration simply did not have time to study the implications of the proposed amendments and therefore found saying 'no' the safest course? If so, much of the bickering could probably have been avoided if the administration had followed up earlier and more earnestly on the subject. After all, it was raised by the Law Reform Commission 10 years ago.

NG HON-WAH, Pokfulam

Instead of addressing real evils facing Hong Kong such as poverty and domestic violence, we now have a snooping law to fight imaginary evil. Other, similar laws such as curbs on press freedom will follow, with the excuse that they are needed to keep the security situation under control. This new law will be used on a few people to effectively keep the threat of fear and harassment lingering always in our hearts.

D. KAMLESH, Kowloon