Criminals will have little chance to rehabilitate if a proposal to store DNA samples on a government database goes ahead, a legislator warned yesterday. The Dangerous Drugs, ICAC and Police Force (Amendment) Bill 1999 would allow DNA samples of criminals convicted of serious offences to be stored in a database regardless of what sentence they are given. The samples may be retrieved and matched if their owners are suspected of involvement in any other offences. Democrat James To Kun-sun said the proposal contradicted rehabilitation policy. 'The impact on that person will be very big. The stigma in his history will last forever. I think we should give him a chance to rehabilitate instead,' he said at a Legco meeting on the bill. He warned of the danger of the Government storing too many DNA samples. 'To be frank, I worry the database will become a sort of social control if the Government turns into a bad government.' The samples should be destroyed if the owners were not jailed or involved in any offences for three years after their conviction, Mr To said. But Gary Cheng Kai-nam, of the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment of Hong Kong, said legislators should not attempt to block the storage of samples as long as the database was not abused by the Government. He said: 'If we assume the Government is a bad government, what is the point of us making laws because a bad government will do whatever it likes.' Principal Assistant Secretary for Security Eliza Yau Kwai-chong said the database was to help investigate serious offences. 'It is neither a criminal record nor a punishment for criminals. If we find the criminals repeat the offences after the match of DNA samples are made, we can step up counselling for them.' She said there was a balance to be struck between people's rights and the public interest.