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Commentary: Tung aims to get consensus on law
( 2003-09-08 06:56) (China Daily)

Tung Chee-hwa, chief executive of Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, last week decided to withdraw the proposed National Security Bill, known as Article 23 of the Basic Law.


Hong Kong's Chief Executive Tung Chee-hwa gestures during a news conference at the Hong Kong Central Government Offices, September 5, 2003 as he announces withdrawal of the drafted National Security Bill, known as Article 23 of the Basic Law. Tung said his decision was because of lingering worries among residents about the legislation, adding that Hong Kong should focus more on economic recovery. [AP Photo]

On Friday, Tung told a news conference that the decision was based upon Hong Kong people's concern about the contents of the bill. He said the territory's government will establish a special panel under the Security Bureau that will be responsible for the continuous review of the legislative work on the Article 23 of the Basic Law. He predicted that the panel will get understanding and support from the public.

Tung's attitude was responsible and pragmatic.

Experiencing much pain during an economic transition, especially having been seriously hit by severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), Hong Kong needs to do more to regain people's confidence in the region and should rejuvenate its economy as soon as possible.

Hong Kong residents' misgivings about the regional government's work in drafting the National Security Bill and their eagerness to see a prosperous Hong Kong are also understandable.

Tung's decision demonstrates that the region's government fully values the opinions of Hong Kong residents and that special administrative region enjoys a high degree of decision-making power.

As part of China, Hong Kong is still legally bound to pass a security law. The territory is responsible for helping to safeguard the security and stability of the country while enjoying a high degree of autonomy under the "one country, two systems'' principle.

Hong Kong has abided by all the regulations within its Basic Law. According to Article 23, the territory should "enact laws on its own to prohibit any act of treason, secession, sedition, subversion against the central government, or theft of State secrets.'' The territory should also enact legislation prohibiting "foreign political organizations or bodies from conducting political activities in the region.''

A high level of autonomy should not mean being free of any obligations.

As part of China, Hong Kong has a duty to ensure that no subversive activity is carried out on its territory.

This is not too complicated to understand.

There are enough reasons to believe that Hong Kong's regional government, after carrying out full consultations with its residents, can win consensus and understanding in this regard.

 
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