Watchdog lacks power to probe errors, lawmakers say, but amendments defeated The commissioner who will oversee the authorisation of covert surveillance operations does not have enough power to investigate if a person has been unlawfully bugged, legislators pressing to amend parts of the covert surveillance bill insisted on the third day of debate on the measure. Margaret Ng Ngoi-yee, who wants the role to have a broader reach, said: 'My amendment allows the commissioner more power to safeguard public privacy.' Fellow Civic Party legislator Audrey Eu Yuet-mee said the onus of proving that a person had been subject to unauthorised surveillance rested on the complainant, who would not have access to information held by law enforcement agencies and the government and would therefore never be able to prove his claims. Secretary for Security Ambrose Lee Siu-kwong argued that the commissioner would investigate complaints and make his findings. But legislators including security panel chairman James To Kun-sun said the bill's wording meant an individual would have to prove his case before the commissioner could investigate. The arguments came after Legco president Rita Fan Hsu Lai-tai said lawmakers had sped up their marathon deliberations sufficiently to avoid the necessity of an all-night sitting to meet Tuesday's court-ordered deadline for passage of the bill. Another contentious point involving innocent victims of unauthorised covert surveillance that legislators have often revisited is the issue of how those people are notified about the intrusion into their privacy. Mr Lee said the confidentiality of covert operations must not be compromised when divulging information to people who may have been subject to unauthorised snooping. But Mr To insisted the government must notify people of certain information, such as how long they had been under surveillance. 'The victims have been sacrificed for the sake of absolute secrecy,' he said. He and Ms Ng also proposed limiting the duration of snooping authorisations and renewals of authorisation. Ms Ng proposed a total duration of two years. All the amendments put forward yesterday by legislators were voted down, as they had been during the first two days of debate on the bill, while all the government amendments went through. Repeatedly, legislators called on the government to reconsider a sunset clause in the bill, which would mean the law would lapse in two years and could be redrafted at a more leisurely pace. April Fifth Action legislator 'Long Hair' Leung Kwok-hung told Mr Lee: 'Please give Hong Kong people a beautiful sunset so they can have a good memory of these proceedings, and in two years' time we can have another debate.'