Thu, Jul 03, 2003 - Page 1 News List

Pro-democracy lawmakers ask Tung to reconsider

AP , HONG KONG

A huge protest against an anti-subversion bill highlighted deep fears among the public that Hong Kong's freedoms could be eroded, and pro-democracy lawmakers said yesterday the government should reconsider it.

"The people had one key message for Hong Kong leader Tung Chee Wah's (董建華) administration: `Listen to us,'" political commentator Christine Loh said, a day after about a half-million people turned out to condemn the planned national security law.

The demonstration was Hong Kong's biggest since a million people took to the streets in outrage and fear after China used troops to crush the Tiananmen Square pro-democracy movement in Beijing on June 4, 1989.

Journalists gathered outside Tung's office early yesterday to ask about the latest protest, but the highly unpopular Hong Kong chief executive brushed aside their questions.

"It just shows a complete disconnect," Loh said. "He can't just hide in a bunker."

Twenty-one pro-democracy lawmakers, from the 60-member Legislative Council, signed a letter to Tung yesterday asking that he stop the bill from moving forward and consult more openly with the public. They also want to meet with Tung, said lawmaker Cyd Ho.

"Now that he's seen the number of people marching in the streets, if he still keeps his head in the sand, the next time there's going to be more," Ho said by telephone.

Tung issued a statement Tuesday night saying he was "concerned" about the large number of protesters and reiterating assurances his government will "continue to take active steps to maintain and safeguard rights and freedoms."

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