The Australian Fears growing for Hong Kong liberty

By Lynne O'Donnell

ALMOST five years after China took control of Hong Kong, the former colony's leaders are coming under increased criticism for eroding basic freedoms as they attempt to second-guess the wishes of the communist government in Beijing.

In the latest in a recent string of attacks, a respected member of the Legislative Council, Margaret Ng, has accused Hong Kong's leaders of being obsessed with the wishes of the Beijing authorities at the expense of freedoms that people took for granted before the 1997 handover from Britain to China.

The territory's international standing was suffering as the Government's regard for human rights regressed and became worse than that of China's, Ms Ng said on her return from Geneva, where she addressed the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. She cited comments by Security Secretary Regina Ip that Hong Kong needed to balance human rights and the rule of law, and that "the human rights the (Catholic) church advocates may be the rights in heaven, but not on earth".

"As if the two were opposed to each other, instead of the protection of the rights of the individual being an accepted objective of the rule of law," she said.

"This kind of statement is possible only on a distorted view of human rights as a luxury, and of the rule of law as a relentless use of the law by the Government as a weapon for social control."

Her comments follow a series of incidents that have cast doubt on the Hong Kong Government's commitment to upholding freedoms.

These include a seminar at the weekend involving more than 200 organisations that characterised the pseudo-religious Falun Gong movement [..] as a threat to social stability.

Human rights activist and US citizen Harry Wu was denied entry to Hong Kong last month for unspecified security concerns.

The Australian,4057,4270465%255E401,00.html

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