Experts want handling of Article 23 bill transferred to the secretary for justice Legal experts said last night Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee's resignation would remove a major obstacle to enacting national security legislation based on Article 23 of the Basic Law. Her departure also would give the government a chance to show the public that this could be carried out in a way that would satisfy those who had been annoyed by Mrs Ip's harsh comments and rough methods, they said. The experts said now that Mrs Ip had decided to go, the government should transfer the handling of the national security bill to the secretary for justice, who would be a more appropriate and effective choice for the job. Albert Chen Hung-yee, a member of the National People's Congress Basic Law Committee, said the promotion of the bill would have been more effective if it had been handled by a senior lawyer from the start. 'For a non-lawyer to answer many of the legal questions raised on the bill was sometimes not convincing,' Professor Chen said. Barrister Alan Leong Kah-kit, a member of the Article 23 Concern Group, made the same suggestion. 'This naturally falls within the portfolio of the secretary for justice,' he said. Pro-democracy legislators have made persistent calls for another official to replace Mrs Ip in handling the Article 23 issue. Martin Lee Chu-ming, former chairman of the Democratic Party, said: 'Simply firing Regina Ip will not solve the problem. The government has to change its entire attitude.' Mr Lee said that the administration should start new consultations. But Ip Kwok-him, vice-chairman of the Democratic Alliance for Betterment of Hong Kong and chairman of the Bills Committee scrutinising the national security legislation, said the discussions on the bill would continue despite Mrs Ip's resignation. He also defended her efforts. 'Mrs Ip is a responsible principal official and has tried her best to do her work,' he said. 'She is a very hard-working person.' Mr Leong said Mrs Ip's resignation would help the government to genuinely consult the public. 'I think Regina's image of an imposing 'Queen Regina' has been so well fixed in the minds of the public that it would have been very difficult for her to get the public thinking she had come around to listening genuinely to the voice of the people,' Mr Leong said. 'The fact she has resigned is certainly conducive to having it done properly.' She had only herself to blame for being seen by people as someone who 'despises members of the public as people who do not care or cannot understand what Article 23 is all about', Mr Leong added. Professor Chen had high praise for Mrs Ip's intellectual abilities but said her blunt manner was behind her downfall. 'Because of the lack of political acumen and being too honest in speaking her mind and feelings without due regard for possible political consequences and ordinary people's sentiments and reactions, she ultimately proved inadequate for the mammoth task of steering Article 23 through a most difficult and complex political climate,' he said. 'I have much sympathy for her.' Professor Chen said Mrs Ip's departure was a response to the failure of the government to get the security law passed. But Mr Leong said that while the three large public rallies held in the past two weeks must have played a large part in the decision, 'she was only ever accountable to Tung'. 'She ultimately proved inadequate for the mammoth task of steering Article 23 through a most complex political climate'