Macau considers national security law

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 16 September, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 16 September, 2008, 12:00am

Macau may propose a national security law by the end of this year.

There might not be any public consultation, as the government does not expect much opposition.

Hong Kong and Macau have the same Article 23 in their Basic Laws.

Both cities must have laws protecting the government.

An Article 23 bill was introduced in Hong Kong in 2002.

However, a protest by half a million people in July 2003 forced the law to be delayed indefinitely.

Macau Chief Executive Edmund Ho Hau-wah said Macau people had already agreed on the need to protect the government.

Mr Ho said the government would try to bring in a national security law before his term of office ended in December next year. His comments caused concern that Hong Kong might be under pressure to revive its own security law.

An analyst said the Macau government had not mentioned Article 23 this year for fear of affecting the Legislative Council election in Hong Kong.

A source said Mr Ho would avoid the issue unless pressed by Beijing.

'Mr Ho has said in private that 'we might become a sitting target if we enacted it ahead of Hong Kong'.'

James Sung Lap-kung, a political scientist at City University, said the Hong Kong government might face greater pressure to decide on Article 23 if such a law was passed in Macau. Macau lawmaker Jose Coutinho said there were many urgent laws to pass in the next political year.

'I don't see any urgency in bringing in the security law,' he said. 'We should focus on pressing issues such as the need for a union law.'

The starting date of the new political term has been changed to today from mid-October because of a busy schedule.

Many laws in Macau have not been changed to keep pace with the city's fast economic growth in recent years. Macau legislator Au Kam-san, a pro-democracy representative, said he would not oppose a national security law if it was based on internationally accepted principles.