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Hong Kong will closely watch 'political' Falungong: Tung

AFP, June 14, 2001
http://asia.dailynews.yahoo.com/ Off-site Link

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Hong Kong will closely monitor the Falungong spiritual sect, the territory's chief executive Tung Chee-hwa said Thursday, labelling it a "political" group which had caused great harm in China.

However he said it was not yet time to bring in an anti-cult law to outlaw the group, which has been illegal on the mainland for almost two years.

"I don't think it has come to the time to enact a law to ban Falungong," Tung told legislators during a question-and-answer session, adding that "we are closely monitoring every move of the group".

"We are also studying the law of other countries in dealing with cults," he said.

Tung said Falungong was "not only a cult but also a political organisation" that had done much harm on the mainland.

"We will monitor them in order not to let them cause any harm to social safety" in Hong Kong or "to bring instability to the mainland," said Tung.

Tung said Falungong, a quasi-Buddhist group which advocates meditation exercises and clean living, was not a religious organisation and "has nothing to do with religious freedom".

Last month, Tung likened Falungong to the Jonestown cult, more than 900 members of which committed suicide in a Guyanan jungle in 1978.

His remarks sparked mounting speculation that Hong Kong's authorities were considering banning the group, possibly via an anti-cult law similar to one recently enacted in France.

The French law referred to deals with crimes committed by cults.

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