Minister pressed to enforce ordinance passed in 1997 Secretary for Security Ambrose Lee Siu-kwong was yesterday told to enforce the anti-bugging law endorsed by the Legislative Council seven years ago or step down. The chairman of the Legislative Council's security panel, James To Kun-sun, issued the warning after Deputy Secretary for Security Cheung Siu-hing failed to say when the government was expected to bring the Interception of Communications Ordinance into force. In 1997, Legco passed the ordinance, sponsored by Mr To as a private member's bill, which would require a judge's permission for phone-tapping instead of authorisation from the chief executive or chief secretary. But the government did not announce when the ordinance would take effect. The Executive Council decided on July 8, 1997, that it should be brought into operation pending a review, in light of the difficulties the ordinance would pose to law enforcement. The ordinance makes phone tapping a criminal offence and requires law enforcement agencies to apply for a court warrant before bugging phones. Police still use the old system, where the chief executive or chief secretary can authorise a phone tap. Ms Cheung told the panel yesterday that the inter-departmental working group set up to conduct the review in late 1999 was still studying the issue. She said the job had taken longer than anticipated as it covered highly complex matters given the rapid development in communications technology. She added that they also had to take into account the significant legislative amendments that had been introduced in other jurisdictions since the 9/11 attacks. 'Our progress is slow but it does not mean indefinite. To give a definite timetable would be difficult,' Ms Cheung said. But Mr To said he found Ms Cheung's answer unacceptable and decided to ask Mr Lee to give a commitment to the panel on a timetable on the legislation or step down. 'He is politically responsible. His predecessor failed to do it. If he can't do it, can we still believe that he can fulfil his duty?' Mr To said. Fellow legislator Albert Ho Chun-yan said the government had no intention of enforcing the law, which was tantamount to repealing it.