The chairman of the security panel threatened to table a committee stage amendment to reject the proposed funding for 456 posts in the Security Wing after the Government refused to disclose details of the new unit. Democrat James To Kun-sun issued the warning on the second day of the Legco Special Finance Committee meeting on the 1996-97 expenditure. Citing grounds of public interest, Secretary for Security Peter Lai Hing-ling declined to discuss the wing's duties. 'The Political Unit has been disbanded. The Security Wing's duties are to maintain Hong Kong's internal security,' Mr Lai said. Infuriated by the reply, Mr To said: 'I am forced to consider cutting this item in the Budget.' Mr To believed the duties of the wing might include protecting VIPs and preventing anti-terrorist activities. But this was unconfirmed and Mr To was worried about duties left unexplained. With his party's support, he said he would table the amendment during the resumption of the second reading debate of the Appropriation Bill next week. 'We must know what these officers are doing, what's good for Hong Kong people and what's the essential nature of the job, but not the operational details of secrets. 'But we are given a blank note [from Mr Lai]. I am very surprised and it forces us as responsible legislators not to approve those 400-odd posts until they come back and give us certain information, or explain to us in closed session,' he said. Mr To said he would even sign the Official Secrets Act declaration to ensure the wing's secrecy was maintained. Independent legislator Emily Lau Wai-hing said: 'How can we be accountable to the public if we approve the funding without knowing what these officers are doing?' But the Secretary for Security said: 'No. I can't make that undertaking [to make disclosures].' He said he was sure that legislators had strong feelings but the Government also took a strong view. A Security Branch official contacted last night said he was unable to give an exact figure for funds set aside for the new wing. Mr To said he would table the amendment if it was technically possible. The technicality hinges on whether Mr To can get the figure for the Security Wing earmarked for 1996-97.