The Government has received a total of more than 90,000 submissions from groups and individuals as the three-month consultation exercise on proposals to implement Article 23 of the Basic Law. The consultation period ended at 5 pm today.
Acting Permanent Secretary for Security Timothy Tong said the consultation had served its purpose.
"Judging from the record high number of submissions, the consultation exercise has achieved its purpose of soliciting full public participation in the process.
"We would like to thank those who submitted their views and suggestions on the legislative proposals," he said.
He also said the vigorous debates over the proposals in the past few months fully demonstrated the robustness of speech freedom in Hong Kong.
Mr Tong said all the views expressed during the consultation exercise would be carefully studied and taken into account before formulating the draft legislation.
"We will consider how best we can improve our proposals and allay as far as possible worries raised by different sectors, such as those over the possession of seditious publications, increased police powers and unauthorised access to protected information. We believe there will be some adjustments to our proposals in the light of the views received," he said.
The Government intends to publish a compendium of the consultation results, together with a list of concerns and suggestions on specific areas of the proposals early next year.
The Government will publish a bill as soon as practicable.
"This will help the public understand in detail our legislative proposals, which can protect national security without undermining the rights and freedoms of Hong Kong people or confidence of foreign investors. "
He stressed that the Legislative Council and members of the public would have ample opportunity to study and comment on the bill until the entire legislative exercise is completed.
Mr Tong said Hong Kong, being an inalienable part of the People's Republic of China, had both moral and constitutional obligations to protect national security.
The public consultation on proposals to implement Article 23 is a step towards fulfilling its constitutional obligation, he added.
Mr Tong further explained that the Government's proposals to implement Article 23 were largely drawn from existing laws, which were adapted from UK statutes, and fully complied with Hong Kong's well-established common law traditions and international human rights principles.
"There is no question of extending Mainland laws or concepts on national security to Hong Kong," he stressed.
Since late September, officials of the Security Bureau and the Department of Justice had attended more than 250 seminars, public hearings, meetings and media interviews to explain the concepts behind the proposals and to listen to public views.
A series of meetings with representatives from a wide range of sectors and professional groups, including legislators, academics, businessmen, media, lawyers, consulate-generals, chambers of commerce, District Councils, district community organisations, arts and religious organisations have also been held.
As at today, the Security Bureau has distributed more than 70,000 copies of consultation documents and 1 million copies of leaflets on the legislative proposals.
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