Cyd Ho

Review of surveillance law rejected

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 12 March, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 12 March, 2009, 12:00am

A motion urging the government to conduct an immediate review of the covert surveillance law was struck down yesterday, even though the legal community had called for immediate amendments.

The 2007 annual report on the ordinance, compiled by the commissioner on interception of communications and surveillance, Mr Justice Woo Kwok-hing, raised serious concerns about possible loopholes in dealing with confidential conversations between lawyers and clients.

But a non-binding motion urging an immediate review of the Interception of Communications and Surveillance Ordinance was struck down yesterday, after it failed to gain a majority among functional constituency members.

Ten functional constituency members voted against it, compared with five in favour, while 19 directly elected lawmakers voted in favour, compared with five against.

A motion requires majority support from both to be carried.

Of the 18 who voted against or abstained on the motion, only Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong vice-chairman Lau Kong-wah and accounting sector lawmaker Paul Chan Mo-po spoke during the debate.

Independent pan-democrat Cyd Ho Sau-lan, who raised the motion, said 'history will have its retribution' at the ballot box against those who did not vote for it. 'The government and the pro-establishment lawmakers owe the Hong Kong public an apology,' she said.

Mr Lau said he supported immediate amendments to the code of practice for officers conducting wiretaps, and trusted the government would review the ordinance after the second full-year report.