Most in HK sees no need for anti-cult law - survey

HONG KONG - A majority of Hong Kong citizens see no need to legislate against cults, as the territory's administration has suggested it might, an opinion poll conducted by an opposition party showed on Wednesday.

The Democratic Party survey also found 56 percent of respondents feared that such laws, which could be used against the Falun Gong spiritual movement, would curtail freedoms.

The poll of 620 people was taken after Hong Kong Chief Secretary Donald Tsang said the government would consider all options including legislation, when dealing with cults, and would also study the approaches taken by mainland China and France.

In the survey, taken between May 30 and June 2, 57 percent of respondents thought Hong Kong did not need anti-cult legislation.

The French National Assembly recently adopted a controversial bill that will allow courts to ban groups regarded as sects.

Falun Gong is banned in mainland China as an "evil cult" but is presently legal in Hong Kong.

Hong Kong, a former British colony which returned to Chinese rule in 1997, had taken a relaxed stance towards the Falun Gong, until the group held a high profile conference condemning Chinese President Jiang Zemin in January.

That prompted Beijing to issue stern warnings that any attempts to turn Hong Kong into a centre for Falun Gong, or an anti-China base, would not be tolerated.

09:25 06-06-01

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