The concept of national security will be defined in line with common law, according to an official from the Chief Executive-designate's office. Principal Crown counsel Benedict Lai Ying-sie said the interpretation would not make reference to the Chinese legal system. The proposals allow national security to be cited as a reason for refusing the registration of groups or permission for protests. Michael Suen said the concept was not new. It was provided for in the Bill of Rights Ordinance and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. 'Whether a body is endangering national security should be decided by the courts,' he said. 'No existing definition of the term does not imply there is uncertainty. Otherwise what's the use of the courts?'. A mainland legal expert said the term should be defined in a narrow sense in line with the common law. Chang Hsin, who now conducts research at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, said the mainland interpretation should not be used. 'The term 'national security' covers a very wide scope in China. One can be charged with espionage simply for talking to foreign journalists,' Mr Chang said. The proposed restrictions on civil liberties went far beyond stipulations in the Basic Law and international convenants, said Bar Association chairman Audrey Eu Yuet-mee, QC. 'The international covenant gives the public the right to hold peaceful assemblies and demonstrations. Requiring application is inconsistent with the rights being enjoyed,' she said. Miss Eu said there was no need to require all societies to apply for registration if only political groups were barred from ties with foreign political organisations. 'It's like asking all people to report what they do at night just because the Government fears drunken people will disturb public order,' she said. There was another ambiguity in the term 'alien'. 'Does a person have to show whether he holds a foreign passport before he can donate money to a political party? How about those with dual nationality?' she said.