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HK backtracks on security law

The proposed law sparked mass protests and calls for Tung to resign.
The proposed law sparked mass protests and calls for Tung to resign.

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Under the first draft of Article 23 legislation anyone found guilty of acts of treason, sedition, secession or subversion against mainland China could be jailed for life.
Hong Kong
Justice and Rights
Tung Chee-hwa

HONG KONG, China (CNN) -- Hong Kong Chief Executive Tung Che-hwa says he has postponed indefinitely the introduction of a controversial anti-subversion law.

The proposed introduction of the law -- required under Article 23 of the territory's post-colonial constitution, the Basic Law -- sparked mass street protests earlier this year amid widespread concern the legislation would restrict basic civil rights.

"We will consult the public again and before that we will not legislate," Tung told a news conference Friday.

He said his government had no fixed timetable for re-introducing the bill -- the passing of which is required under the terms of the Basic Law -- but no replacement bill would be put forward without public consultations.

"In order to give people enough time to understand the law, we decided to withdraw it," Tung said.

In the meantime, he said, it was more important for Hong Kong to concentrate on economic recovery than worries over the impact of the security bill.

The row over the proposed legislation had sparked Hong Kong's biggest political crisis since it returned to Chinese rule in 1997 and set alarm bells ringing in Beijing.

On July 1 more than half a million protesters took to the streets in protest at the law and demanding Tung's resignation.

Tung, who was handpicked by the government in Beijing to run Hong Kong after 150 years of British rule, has said he has no intention of standing down.

However, within weeks of the July 1 protest security chief Regina Ip, one of the chief proponents of the anti-subversion law, resigned for what she said were "personal reasons."

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