HK Security Chief Slams Rebel Law Makers Over Illegal Protests

Published October 21st, 2000 - 02:00 GMT

Hong Kong security chief Regina Ip attacked rebel legislators for their "dangerous" participation in illegal demonstrations, reports said Saturday. 

Warning of potential chaos if groups followed the lawmakers' example, Secretary for Security Ip said the situation bordered on "challenging the credibility of an authority of government," the Hong Kong Mail quoted her as saying Friday. 

If "other groups decide to follow the lead of people in responsible positions in flouting the law, naturally there could be chaos," she said. 

Hong Kong's Public Order Ordinance was tightened following the territory's 1997 handover to Chinese rule, requiring protestors to obtain police permits for marches of more than 30 people or sit-ins of more than 50 people. 

Ip said only "a handful of people who have very extremely radical views" challenged the ordinance. 

A series of protests were held in response to the arrest of five university students in September for demonstrating without a police permit on April 20 against a proposal to charge different tuition fees for different courses. Leading legislators, including Democratic Party leader Martin Lee, took part in the protests. 

Ip said police had investigated all 408 unauthorized demonstrations held since the handover to mainland rule but had decided to take action in just two cases. 

Her comments followed those made by an unnamed senior Hong Kong government official on Wednesday, who warned politicians and activists they were "playing with fire" by taking part in unauthorized demonstrations. 

The official admitted police had been reluctant to enforce the controversial ordinance recently because it did not want to make martyrs of the activists. 

While the department of justice later decided not to prosecute the student demonstrators, it has yet to make a decision on seven student leaders who were detained in July after a protest marking the anniversary of a controversial ruling on the right of abode for mainland Chinese. 

The government has defended the law, arguing that a permit or notification system for public meetings existed in many places, including the United States and Britain -- HONG KONG (AFP)  

 

© 2000 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)

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