AFP: Hong Kong will not pass security law without public support: security chief

HONG KONG, Sept 6 (AFP) - Hong Kong will not try to enact its controversial security law, which has been shelved indefinitely following mass protests, until the bill has public support, the territory's security chief said on Saturday.

"We will not push to enact this important piece of legislation until we have the support and understanding of the public," Security Secretary Ambrose Lee told reporters on Saturday.

Lee, whose predecessor Regina Ip resigned over the security bill, stressed there "was no timetable" for its implementation in the former British colony.

Chief executive Tung Chee-hwa announced Friday that he was postponing the bill indefinitely after it drew 500,000 people on to the streets in protest and sparked the biggest political crisis since Hong Kong was handed back to China.

Pressure had mounted on Tung's administration to back down on the security bill after parties from across the political spectrum, business leaders and foreign powers expressed doubts over the legislation.

Hong Kong is required, under the terms of the 1997 handover from Britain to China, to enact national security legislation banning treason, sedition, subversion and the theft of state secrets.

But critics are concerned China could use the law to suppress freedoms, stifle reporting of official abuses, prevent protests against the government and block access to legal representation.

Meanwhile, about 30 protesters marched to the government headquarters demanding the resignation of Tung, Beijing's hand-picked leader who has become increasingly embattled in recent months.

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