Lee mistaken

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 18 May, 1994, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 18 May, 1994, 12:00am

MARTIN Lee seems to subscribe to the old adage that one should never let the facts get in the way of a good story. How else can one explain his statement that the Governor ''has consistently resisted calls from the Hong Kong community to strike from Hong Kong's law books the draconian colonial statutes which could be used to muzzle journalists after 1997''? Lets put the facts on the record.

Soon after he arrived in Hong Kong as Governor in July 1992, Mr Patten met representatives of the Journalists Association. They presented him with a list of 17 laws which in their view were either an actual or a potential threat to press freedom. Mr Patten immediately agreed to conduct a review. The review in fact covered 27 Ordinances (not the 17 identified by the Journalists Association) and a total of 53 separate provisions.

The initial results of the review were reported to the Journalists Association and to the Legislative Council in March and April last year. We have already amended three Ordinances, a further seven will be amended before the end of the year and we are still working on four Ordinances, i.e. the Crimes Ordinances, the Official Secrets Act, the Police Force Ordinance and the Prevention of Bribery Ordinance.

The remaining Ordinances have been reviewed but we have concluded that as they exist to protect the privacy of individuals, there is no case for amending or repealing them. The Government has a duty to protect the privacy of individuals as well as to protect the freedom of the press. Far from resisting calls for action, the Government has moved quickly to identify the legal provisions which could jeopardise the freedom of the laws identified and we will complete work on the remaining four before the end of the year.

M. J. J. HANSON Information Co-ordinator Government House