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New security official promises open mind
( 2003-08-19 06:57) (China Daily)

Ambrose Lee, secretary for security of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, has pledged to listen to all views and to keep an open mind on Article 23 legislation.

"I will tend to be as open and transparent as possible and listen to the views from all walks of life very carefully," he told a media gathering Monday, two weeks after being named the security chief.

After collecting the views, Lee said he will discuss them with his colleagues before putting forward another document for a second round of public consultation in September.

The content and format of the consultation paper has not yet been decided, Lee said, adding he will not limit it to any particular sector of the community nor any particular method.

The final version of the proposed bill will take the community's various views into account, and Lee said he has started scheduling meetings with political parties to discuss it.

"This is quite a difficult task because there are different voices in society and it is a bit polarized. I hope the law will have the support of the majority people.''

But he said the government has no fixed timetable for the legislation.

Lee did not directly address the question on whether the government will accept amendments moved by legislators and incorporate them in a white bill together with the 54 government-initiated amendments.

When asked if he had learned a lesson from his predecessor Regina Ip, who "crossed fire'' with many legislators, Lee said it is most important to talk fact and respect one another.

Lee said concerns raised by the legal circle and religious groups will be taken into consideration and the government will try to proceed in such a way that will end all misunderstanding, fear and worry.

Yesterday, Lee talked about measures taken to handle more mainland visitors.

He highlighted the smooth and expedient cross-boundary crossing service as one of his priority tasks.

In the short run, 90 staff members of the Immigration Department have been deployed at check-points, while staff are not allowed to take leave during the National Day holidays.

The Immigration Department will contact the Shenzhen authorities with a view to diverting visitors to Man Kam To and Sha Tau Kok in order to ease the pressure off the Lok Ma Chau checkpoint.

Lee disclosed that a new, electronic Expedient Clearance System is being used at Lo Wu for two-way permit holders.

Once their travel documents are scanned, the data will be stored in the computer terminals, helping to reduce clearance times to 1 minute from two for each traveller.

The Civil Service Bureau is arranging for several hundred clerical staff from various departments to operate this device, Lee said.

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