French law basis for likely move to outlaw sect

CHIEF Executive Tung Chee-hwa is believed to be preparing to outlaw the Falun Gong sect this year.

An ``anti-evil-cult law'' is likely to be based on a similar law due to be passed by France in June, a well-informed source said yesterday.

The source said Mr Tung was waiting for the French law to be passed before going ahead with drafting the SAR's version.

Mr Tung is understood to feel that the controversial provision in the French law enabling the government to ban a local organisation if it had been branded an evil cult overseas could be used in Hong Kong against the Falun Gong, declared an evil cult in the mainland and banned by Beijing.

Secretary for Justice Elsie Leung Oi-sie suggested in a study report to Secretary for Security Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee that the proposed French law seemed the most appropriate means to outlaw the sect here.

Under the proposed legislation, the French government would have 10 standards against which an evil cult could be defined and banned if there was sufficient evidence to prove it had committed ``criminal offences''.

In one of his strongest statements on the issue, Mr Tung warned the sect on Wednesday not to disrupt the visit of President Jiang Zemin for the Fortune Global Forum next month. Mr Jiang is expected to arrive in Hong Kong on May 8 for the opening of the event, and stay only a short time- possibly as little as 24 hours - to avoid the sect's protests. Earlier, he had planned to stay a week.

Meanwhile, incoming Chief Secretary for Administration Donald Tsang Yam-kuen said Mr Tung had been telling the sect ``they should not step beyond the law to do something which violates the law''. As the host, the government ``must let all the participants express their views freely and avoid being embarrassed too much''. The government would just handle the issue in accordance with existing laws.

Mrs Ip refused to comment last night. Democratic Party spokesman on constitutional affairs Cheung Man-kwong said Mr Tung was creating a ``white terror atmosphere'' and contradicting the spirit of the rule of law.