LegCo Paper No. CB(2)2752/96-97
(The minutes have been seen by the
Ref : CB2/BC/6/96

Minutes of the twelfth meeting of the Bills Committee on the

Crimes (Amendment) (No. 2) Bill 1996
held on Tuesday, 13 May 1997 at 2:30 pm
in Conference Room B of the LegCo Building

Members Present :

    Hon Albert HO Chun-yan (Chairman)
    Hon CHEUNG Man-kwong
    Hon Emily LAU Wai-hing
    Hon James TO Kun-sun
    Hon Christine LOH Kung-wai
    Hon Bruce LIU Sing-lee
    Hon Margaret NG

Members Absent :

    Hon Frederick FUNG Kin-kee
    Hon Andrew CHENG Kar-foo
    Hon TSANG Kin-shing
    Hon Mrs Elizabeth WONG, CBE, ISO, JP

Public Officers Attending :

Mr Andrew KLUTH
Principal Assistant Secretary for Security
Senior Assistant Solicitor General

Clerk in Attendance :

Ms Doris CHAN
Chief Assistant Secretary (2)3

Staff in Attendance :

Mr Jimmy MA
Legal Adviser
Miss Erin TSANG
Senior Assistant Secretary (2)7

I.Continuation of discussion of the draft Committee stage amendments (CSAs)

Hong Kong Association for Democracy and People’s Livelihood (ADPL)’s stance on the offence of sedition

Mr Bruce LIU informed the meeting that ADPL was of the view that the provision on sedition should not be deleted. It should be amended by incorporating the Johannesburg Principles, and to bring it into line with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights so that speech and writing would not be criminalised. As for further amendments to the provision, it should be left to the future legislature of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR).

2. Miss Margaret NG asked and Mr Bruce LIU said that ADPL was of the view that any person who had a seditious intention to disrupt the social order should be penalised, and hence its support for the retention of the provision. However, since there was insufficient time for the Bills Committee to conduct indepth research and extensive consultation, ADPL had come up with a political decision that it was not desirable to legislate on the offences of subversion and secession under those circumstances. It should be for the future legislature of HKSAR to decide whether it was necessary to legislate on those two offences in accordance with the requirements of Article 23 of the Basic Law (Article 23).

The Democratic Party’s stance on the offence of sedition

3. Mr James TO and the Chairman said that the Democratic Party supported, in principle, the deletion of the offence of sedition. However, in view of the political reality that the future legislature of HKSAR would very likely legislate on that offence in accordance with Article 23, the Democratic Party considered that the provision on sedition should not be deleted at the present stage. Instead, it should be amended by: (a) incorporating the Johannesburg Principles for better protection of human rights; and (b) providing an additional element, vis à vis the seditious intention having the purpose of disturbing the "constituted authority", to make prosecution more difficult. As for the definition of "seditious intention", it should be defined narrowly to refer to an intention to cause others to use force or violence to disrupt public disorder or jeopardise public safety with a view to bringing hatred and hostility against the Government of the United Kingdom and the Government of Hong Kong. Any act with the seditious intention and which was likely to cause imminent violence should be prohibited.

4. Members had divided opinions on the matter: Ms Emily LAU, Miss Christine LOH and Miss Margaret NG supported the deletion of the offence, whereas a majority of members, comprising members of the Democratic Party and Mr Bruce LIU, agreed not to delete the offence of sedition. It was further decided that the draft CSAs on the offence of sedition as prepared by the Legal Adviser would be adopted as the general approach in amending the relevant provisions. In this connection, the meeting noted the following:

  1. Ms Emily LAU would move CSAs to delete the offence of sedition and the consequential provisions; and

  2. Miss Margaret NG maintained that (i) the reform on the offence of sedition as supported by a majority of the members might not achieve the desirable legal effects and hence her suggestion to delete the offence in its entirety; and (b) the term "constituted authority", which was defined in accordance with the case law as "a person or body holding public office or discharging some public function of the Government of the United Kingdom or the Government of Hong Kong" was not appropriate, and its incorporation into the draft CSAs might result in adverse effects.

Section 32(h) of the Post Office Ordinance (Cap. 98)

5. Members unanimously agreed to the Administration’s proposal as to repeal section 32(h).

The Administration’s stance

6. Mr James TO then asked and Mr Andrew KLUTH reiterated that it was the Administration’s wish for the legislative process of the Bill to run its normal course. Yet, the Administration was unable to comment at the present stage as to whether the Second Reading of the Bill would resume until the consolidated CSAs were available. In further reply to the Chairman, Mr KLUTH reassured the Administration’s position that the Bill was introduced in response to members’ request. It was members’ prerogative to suggest amendments to the Bill where necessary and appropriate, and the Administration had no intention to interfere with the legislative process.

Consultation of the deputations

7. Mr CHEUNG Man-kwong suggested and the meeting agreed that the draft CSAs would be forwarded to the deputations, including the Hong Kong Bar Association, the Law Society of Hong Kong, Justice, the Hong Kong Human Rights Monitor and the Hong Kong Journalists Association, for written comments. Subject to their comments/suggestions, the Bills Committee would decide whether it was necessary to invite the deputations to another meeting.

II.Date of next meeting

8. The next meeting would be held on Friday, 23 May 1997 at 12:30 pm to consider the deputations’ comments.

9. There being no other business, the meeting ended at 3:23 pm.

LegCo Secretariat
23 June 1997

Last Updated on 15 October 1997