Crucial amendments to safeguard freedom of information fell by the wayside because legislators were attending the candlelight vigil in commemoration of the June 4 killings. The Official Secrets Bill became law without amendments being made to the clauses on espionage and unlawful disclosure of information, which have been severely criticised for restricting freedom of information. James To Kun-sun of the Democratic Party said that in the absence of 10 of his allies, he was saddened to witness the loss of the amendments. 'Today, on June 4 and upon the death of Samuel Wong, we are so sad to witness the retrogression of our law to the dark days when stringent rules were manoeuvred by the Special Branch. 'Governor Chris Patten should be ashamed that just before his departure tyrannical colonial rules were put in place for Hong Kong and the Special Administrative Region,' he said. The vote took place half an hour before the Victoria Park vigil. Of the legislators from the pro-democracy camp, seven were leaders of the Hong Kong Alliance in Support of the Patriotic Democratic Movement in China. Amendments on espionage and unlawful disclosure moved by Christine Loh Kung-wai of the Citizens Party were defeated. The bill, which seeks to localise the 1911 British Official Secrets Act and to legislate against 'theft of state secrets' as required by Article 23 of the Basic Law, has been approved by the Joint Liaison Group. Officials had warned that any amendments would upset the Sino-British agreement and would shatter hopes for the bill remaining intact after the handover. Secretary for Security Peter Lai Hing-ling assured legislators that the Government had no intention of limiting existing practices for public meetings and public processions in any place - and not merely in the vicinity of a 'prohibited place'. Margaret Ng Ngoi-yee criticised the bill as exposing 'the individual to very grave dangers of being unjustly convicted of serious offences, and unjustifiably restricting the freedom of information'. The bill says a person commits an offence if he approaches a 'prohibited place' for 'a purpose prejudicial to the safety of interests of the United Kingdom or Hong Kong'. Ms Ng said a very trivial act, like a demonstration, close to a prohibited place, like the airport, may bring a conviction for spying.