The proposal to set up a government-appointed press council on intrusion of privacy was overwhelmingly rejected by lawmakers. At the end of a two-hour debate, members called on the press to establish an effective system of self-regulation to address public concern at sensationalist news coverage. An amended motion by Albert Ho Chun-yan of the Democratic Party opposing proposals by a sub-committee of the Law Reform Commission and supporting self-regulation was passed by 39 to nil. Six abstained. Mr Ho said: 'We're worried that the proposed body will be abused by the Government to direct the press and its reporting. It would gradually become a tool to interfere with press freedom.' Dr Yeung Sum, also of the Democratic Party, said: 'The importance of an independent press is far more important than the problem of sex and violence.' Recent events such as the row over two-states theory, the change of RTHK's head and reports that big firms were conducting an advertising boycott of a newspaper were worrying, he said. Selina Chow Liang Shuk-yee, Liberal Party vice-chairman, said: 'The commission proposal, no matter how well intended it is, is unacceptable simply because a government-appointed body will not have credibility.' Tsang Yok-sing, chairman of the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment of Hong Kong, said it was time for action from the press rather than words. He said the new body should have a set of professional ethics acceptable to the profession and the public, operate openly and impose punishments that would be an effective deterrent. Cyd Ho Sau-lan, of The Frontier, said: 'The commission and the Government should take heed of the clear voice from members.' Secretary for Home Affairs David Lan Hong-tsung said the Government had an 'open mind and an impartial view'. 'We always believe the best way is for the media to set up an effective self-regulating body . . . We believe the commission will listen to all the views,' he said.