Legislation amendments 'too slow'

Linda Choy

THE Government was criticised yesterday for its slow progress in amending legislation that contradicts the Bill of Rights.

Members of the Legislative Council's Constitutional Development Panel were dismayed by a government report that said amendments would not be completed until late 1994 - three years after the Bill was adopted.

The Places of Public Entertainment Ordinance, Theft Ordinance and the Marriage Ordinance are among the latest batch of laws to be updated in line with the rights bill.

The Places of Public Entertainment Ordinance gives discretionary powers to the police and the Commissioner for Television and Entertainment Licensing to stop entertainment and issue permits for public entertainment respectively.

The Theft Ordinance provides unequal treatment against ex-convicts handling stolen goods.

The Marriage Ordinance discriminates against mothers by not giving them the right to give consent for the marriage of their children if they are under 21.

Replying to Mr Lee Wing-tat's question about the pace of the law revision process, the Deputy Secretary for Constitutional Affairs, Mr Peter Lai Hing-ling, said it was because of a manpower shortage.

Mr Lai ruled out appointing private solicitors to conduct the reviews, saying it was important the matter was dealt with as a whole.

''The Government must get itself involved in the whole process of amendment; it [the amendment] must be considered as a whole,'' he said.

Meanwhile, legislators also renewed their call for the setting up of an independent Human Rights Commission.

Independent legislator Miss Emily Lau Wai-hing said she feared unfair situations when ordinary citizens tried to sue the Government through the Judiciary.

United Democrats legislator Mr Cheung Man-kwong supported Miss Lau's call, adding that the huge fees involved would render such legal action impossible.