Beijing has given its clearest sign yet that Hong Kong should introduce a law soon banning subversive activities. Secretary for Justice Elsie Leung Oi-sie disclosed that the issue had been discussed for the first time yesterday, after a meeting with the chairman of the National People's Congress, Li Peng, in Beijing. Until yesterday, both Beijing and SAR leaders had avoided discussing the sensitive issue in high-level meetings. Miss Leung said there was no pressure for her to speed up the legislative process. 'Mr Li has said the priority of the first-term of the SAR Government was to ensure a smooth transition. Therefore, it is understandable that the legislative process for Article 23 [of the Basic Law] has not been completed.' But a vice-chairman of the NPC's Legislative Affairs Commission, Qian Xiaoyang, said the SAR should introduce a subversion law as soon as possible. 'Under the Basic Law, the SAR has a duty and responsibility to enact the law . . . It has to do it as soon as possible,' he said. Article 23 says the SAR should enact its own law to prohibit any act of treason, secession, sedition and subversion against the central Government. The SAR Government has said it will widely consult the public. A subversion law would raise questions on the status of groups like the Falun Gong, which has been banned on the mainland and branded an evil cult but remains legal in Hong Kong. Secretary for Security Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee said on Tuesday that Hong Kong should not shirk its responsibility to legislate on Article 23. Democratic Party chairman Martin Lee Chu-ming maintained there was no need for an anti-subversion law. Associate director of the Chinese University's Institute of Asia-Pacific Studies, Professor Lau Siu-kai, said the Government could no longer defer the task. A local NPC deputy, Cheng Yiu-tong, said a strong debate was inevitable. Professor Anthony Cheung Bing-leung, a lecturer on public administration at City University, said there was no urgency to bring in a law.