Chief Secretary Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor last night dispelled fears a draconian national security law would soon be back on the agenda, despite a call in Beijing for it to be implemented.
Lam said there was no urgent need to legislate under Article 23 of the Basic Law, which requires Hong Kong to pass laws prohibiting acts of "treason, secession, sedition, or subversion".
An earlier attempt to pass an Article 23 law was scrapped after half a million people took to the streets to protest in 2003.
Lam said the government "has had a consistent stance regarding Article 23. That is, this is not a matter for us to handle as a priority". She was speaking after Basic Law Committee member Professor Wang Zhenmin called for the implementation of Article 23 laws at a seminar in Beijing yesterday in the wake of a break-in at the People's Liberation Army barracks in Central by independence advocates last month.
A report on the website of Ta Kung Pao said Wang told the seminar protesters had "gone too far". He said some people kept testing the bottom line and harming relations between Hong Kong and Beijing.
Wang, also a senior researcher at the State Council's Institute of Hong Kong and Macau Affairs was unhappy that the Hong Kong legal sector had kept silent, and expressed concern about rule of law in the city.
Another speaker, Chen Zuoer, chairman of the National Association of Study on Hong Kong and Macau think tank, called the break-in "provocative". He said trespassers also risked being shot.
In Hong Kong, lawyer and Civic Party chairwoman Audrey Eu Yuet-mee rejected Wang's claims. She said the local judiciary could handle the barracks case under local laws, and there was no need for an Article 23 law.
Earlier this month, Peter Wong Man-kong, a local deputy to the National People's Congress, said he planned to propose introducing a national security law in Hong Kong during the NPC's plenary session in March.
Additional reporting by Ng Kang-chung