LEGISLATORS were alarmed to hear that the public order law allowed the police to censor messages broadcast during public meetings or demonstrations. In yesterday's meeting on the Public Order (Amendment) Bill, police Director of Operations David Emmet said section six of the ordinance enabled the force to control messages that would threaten public safety and order. He said legislators might expect the police to do something if somebody called at a public gathering for one of their heads to be chopped off. But United Democrat Yeung Sum said he was shocked to hear Mr Emmet's comments, saying they were tantamount to censorship. Cheung Man-kwong said the public should be free to say what it wanted, including calling for him to be beheaded. Mr Emmet said the section did not allow the police to take action simply because they disliked the message. It would only be invoked if public order or safety was involved. ''This has been on the statutes for some time,'' he said, adding the section should be seen in the context of the 1967 riots which witnessed inflammatory broadcasts. The bill proposes removing the requirement for licensing of public processions. Organisers would only need to notify police seven days in advance. It also raises the limit on the number of people allowed to take part in public protests and rallies without notification from 30 to 50 and 20 to 30 respectively. The United Democrats have been pressing for the notification period to be cut and the thresholds for notification to be raised. Principal Assistant Secretary for Security Karen Pong Leung Kwok-hing said the administration would seek the views of the 19 district boards and the district fight crime committees. She agreed to consider lawmakers' requests to allow the public to participate in the meetings. The Human Rights Commission proposed scrapping the notification requirement for all public meetings. As for public processions, notification should only be needed if they involved more than 200 people.