Macau security bill sent to lawmakers

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 17 December, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 17 December, 2008, 12:00am

A national security bill for Macau has been submitted to the city's legislature by the government, with minor changes to a draft unveiled in October.

A controversial idea to punish 'preparatory behaviour' for sedition and theft of state secrets has been dropped after a 40-day consultation ended on November 30.

People preparing to take such action but who did not do so would not be punished under the new bill, said Secretary for Administration and Justice Florinda da Rosa Silva Chan.

However, preparation for treason, secession and subversion will still be punishable.

Macau Chief Executive Edmund Ho Hau-wah and Ms Chan announced yesterday the government's move to table the bill based on Article 23 of Macau's Basic Law.

Mr Ho is due to visit state leaders in Beijing tomorrow to report on his work.

Hong Kong and Macau have the same Article 23 in their mini-constitutions, under which both cities must legislate against treason and subversion. In 2003, an attempt to introduce a national security law in Hong Kong triggered a massive protest, and the legislation was shelved. It is believed successful enactment in Macau will put pressure on Hong Kong to revive its security legislation.

The new bill includes a clause covering open trial except in the case of theft of state secrets. Criminal proceedings under the law should generally be conducted openly but the judge may decide against this if it will harm national security, the new clause states.

Ms Chan said the majority of views collected during the consultation were in favour of the legislation.