Writing a news story that embarrasses the government will not be an offence under proposed national security laws unless it is written with intent to injure Hong Kong or mainland interests, the security chief says. Secretary for Security Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee made the remark yesterday as media workers voiced concerns about the government's proposals on Article 23 legislation at a meeting organised by the Hong Kong Journalists Association. Many expressed worries that the press freedom they now enjoyed would be stifled by the introduction of the law. One journalist told Mrs Ip the opinions expressed by representatives of the News Executives' Association at an earlier meeting with her could by no means represent the views of frontline media workers. Mrs Ip addressed concerns from media workers on hypothetical scenarios such as disclosing information about the deployment of the PLA. She said journalists concerned would not be punished as long as they did not have intent to injure the interest of Hong Kong or the mainland, or cause damage to the PLA. Attempting to address concerns expressed by a journalist, Mrs Ip said foreign correspondents would not automatically be regarded as spies if they collected information here in the event of the mainland being at war with the correspondent's country of origin. She stressed the facts of each case should be looked at. The association's chairwoman, Mak Yin-ting, who acted as moderator at yesterday's meeting, warned the passing of such laws would bring about 'chilling effects' on press freedom and freedom of expression. Of particular concern was the government's proposal to introduce a new offence of unauthorised and damaging disclosure of protected information obtained by unauthorised access. Mrs Ip would not give any assurance that this proposal could be scrapped, despite strong pleas from the community. And she would not comment on the Journalists Association's submissions on Article 23 legislation. The association suggested the government should scrap its proposals on sedition if it was to go ahead with legislation. Similar concerns on sedition were raised by teachers at a forum organised by the pro-Beijing Federation of Education Workers hours later. One participant was worried about the possibility of teaching materials being treated as seditious publications because possession of it would constitute an offence. Mrs Ip said: 'Some commentators have said they will become martyrs once the laws [to implement Article 23] are passed. This is downright without any basis.'