Attorney-General Jeremy Mathews was yesterday accused of creating uncertainty for Hong Kong by withdrawing a government bill which sought to localise the appointment system for notaries public. A notary public is a public official, usually a solicitor, authorised to administer oaths and certify documents. Margaret Ng Ngoi-yee, chairman of a bills committee formed to study the Legal Practitioners (Amendment) Bill 1996, said withdrawal of the bill was unjustifiable despite prior notice from the Government that it might take such action. It was the second time since Legco's last sitting began on Monday that the Government had withdrawn a bill on third reading. The bill was axed after members voted in favour of an amendment moved by Ms Ng, which said all notaries public should have to join the Hong Kong Society of Notaries. The Government said the provision would infringe the right to association enshrined in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. This could trigger a spate of potential legal challenges, the administration contended. Mr Mathews said: 'We would very much like a local appointment system for notaries public to be in place before July 1.' Ms Ng said even if there was a legal challenge, its chances of success were extremely low. She said that withdrawal of the bill would mean no new notaries could be appointed until new legislation was in place. In the meantime, regulations covering notaries public would be uncertain. This would create doubts. She said if the bill had been withdrawn earlier, it could have been introduced as a private member's bill and enacted. 'But because of the administration's delay, we now - at the last session - find that we have no alternative but to leave things hanging in the air,' she said. On Monday, Secretary for Security Peter Lai Hing-ling sparked protests when he axed the Independent Police Complaints Council Bill at the third reading. But Ms Ng said: 'In fairness, we have to make a difference between the IPCC bill and this one.'