Proposals to allow the authorities 'broad powers' to refuse the registration of societies are unjustified, the Government said last night. Mr Tung's proposals allow societies to be refused 'in the interests of national security or public safety, public order, the protection of public health or morals, or the protection of the rights and freedoms of others'. But under Article 22 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, restrictions are allowed only if they are necessary. The Government said 'such restrictions go beyond what is necessary and, indeed, go further than the pre-1992 version of the Societies Ordinance'. The ordinance was amended in 1992 to remove draconian colonial powers. The Government also cast doubt on whether the 'mere acceptance of foreign assistance from an alien or foreign political organisation, or the mere affiliation with a foreign political organisation', could be valid grounds under the covenant for refusing registration of a group. The Chief Executive-designate proposes that a political group can be de-registered if it seeks funds from foreign political bodies and individuals. The Government said the proposals were unjustified and would restrict the activities of all Hong Kong people. It said non-Chinese nationals with right of abode were allowed to take part in political activities, including voting and being elected. 'There is no reason to debar a society from accepting financial contributions from such a person,' it said. 'Such a provision would be practically unenforceable.'