Appeal rules for groups banned under the proposed national security laws should be set by the Executive Council and not the Security Bureau, a leading legal academic said yesterday. Albert Chen Hung-yee, former dean of the University of Hong Kong law faculty and a member of the central government-appointed Basic Law Committee, welcomed amendments to the sedition law tabled by the government this week. But he called for several other changes to the bill to make it tighter and less likely to hamper civil rights. Of particular concern, he said, was the new proposal that the secretary for security would make rules dictating how groups she had banned could appeal against the decision in court. 'It is reasonable to take away from the chief justice the power to make rules regarding appeals against proscription, because the validity of the rules may be challenged before the court in future, thus resulting in the problem of the chief justice adjudicating upon rules made by himself,' Professor Chen said. 'However, I would prefer the rule-making power to be vested in the chief executive in-council rather than the secretary for security. But Chinese University law and human rights professor Michael Davis said the whole concept of the proscription provisions needed overhauling. 'They took one step forward with the sedition law but two steps backward,' he said. 'Is this supposed to be an improvement? A real improvement would have been to have a law specifying what is or is not permissible and if the group was somehow to be perceived by government to be infringing the law, it would be for the government to prove the case in court.' Professor Davis said that Legco would be 'derelict if it left it to the secretary for security to make such rules'. Professor Chen said there were still amendments that needed to be made, such as adding a defence of public interest to the laws on illegal disclosure of official secrets, similar to a provision in the Prevention of Bribery Ordinance. He also said the proposed subversion offence needed to be narrowed to exclude the concept of 'intimidation of the central government', which he said was too vague.