A coalition of 31 non-governmental organisations (NGOs) said yesterday they believed proposed laws against sedition and subversion would create 'white terror'. They said they were deeply concerned that the Tung administration would start using 'national security' as 'a pretext to silence different opinions, suppress the development of our civil society, and deprive Hong Kong people of their basic human rights protection'. The signatories of the statement against laws planned under Article 23 of the Basic Law include Amnesty International, the April 5th Action Group, the Citizens Party, the Frontier, Rainbow Action, the Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movement in China, and the Professional Teachers' Union. The coalition also said that restrictions on the activities of NGOs and their connections with foreign organisations, as laid out in Article 23, were unacceptable. Article 23 says Hong Kong shall enact laws on its own to prohibit any act of treason, secession, sedition and subversion. It is believed a consultation paper on the planned laws will be issued soon. 'We believe legislation under Article 23 would create a 'white terror'. Its chilling effect will damage the healthy development of civil society and divergence in opinions . . . and would therefore fundamentally alter the essence of Hong Kong society,' the statement reads. Asked about the NGOs' concerns, Secretary for Security Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee said last night that the groups were engaging in 'pure speculation'. She said the accusations lacked concrete grounds and were not new. She criticised the NGOs as over-sensitive, pointing out that they had not even seen the government's proposals.