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We'll do nothing on Falun Gong

Falun Gong members are free to practise their exercises every day, the Chief Secretary for Administration Donald Tsang Yam-kuen said.

Hong Kong iMail (Hong Kong), June 23, 2001
http://hk-imail.singtao.com/ Off-site Link

falun gong, falun dafa, falungong, religion news report provides news of interest to those who work in Christian apologetics and countercult ministriesn.  It includes information about religious cults, sects, new religious movements, and related issues, such as religious freedom, religious tolerance, and cult crimes.

Doing nothing is Hong Kong's way of dealing with the Falun Gong, Chief Secretary for Administration Donald Tsang Yam-kuen disclosed yesterday.

``We are dealing with Falun Gong by not dealing with Falun Gong - that is the Hong Kong way,'' he said in the most candid description of the government's policy so far.

Mr Tsang appeared to distance himself from Chief Executive Tung Chee-hwa's statement last week describing Falun Gong as ``an evil cult'', by saying that it was ``immaterial'' how Falun Gong described itself.

What mattered, he argued, was that Hong Kong was run by the rule of law, ``and nothing less''.

Falun Gong and democratisation, were, Mr Tsang said, ``peculiarly Hong Kong issues'' that had to be dealt with in a ``Hong Kong way''. The Hong Kong way, he explained, meant doing nothing.

``The Hong Kong way means it is different from the mainland way. We do it our own way, within our own rule of law, and that is what we have been doing.''

Falun Gong members, he said, were able to practise their exercises freely every day. ``Nobody bothers them if they are going to continue with their breathing exercises,'' Mr Tsang told a lunch at the Foreign Correspondents' Club.

Mr Tsang said the question of anti-cult legislation was a rumour. ``We are not legislating,'' he said.

Hong Kong's freedom, he added, was ``non-negotiable'', and the rule of law must be preserved.

In an echo of remarks last month in which he said his Catholic beliefs guided his definition of a cult, Mr Tsang said there were differing views on what constituted a cult.

``You have your own definition, Mr Tung has his own definition, the Buddhists have one, the Catholics have another, the Christians have other things. But this is the beautiful thing about Hong Kong,'' he said.

In a free society like Hong Kong, he said, ``it is natural for people to have different views on what a cult is and what an evil cult is''.

But, he added, regardless of whether Falun Gong is ``a cult, and whether it is evil or not'', the most important thing is that in Hong Kong ``religion is totally free''.

Although Mr Tung and Secretary for Security Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee had said there were no immediate plans to legislate, Mr Tsang was more direct.

``I think there is no need for us to speculate on what we are going to do but we are not legislating.''

Mr Tsang ruled out a public meeting with Falun Gong leaders, saying that would ``not be conducive to dialogue'', but admitted that officials were in contact with Falun Gong representatives.

However, an official said later that contact with Falun Gong related only to arrangements for protests and public events, and not negotiations over policy.

There was a mixed reaction to Mr Tsang's comments from legislators. ``It is quite obvious that what Mr Tung said represented the government's position,'' said Tsang Yok-sing, the chairman of the Democratic Alliance for Betterment of Hong Kong.

Independent Margaret Ng Ngoi-yee could not accept Mr Tsang's explanation. ``Mr Tung made the statement at Legco's question-and-answer session, not a tea gathering. I can't see it as a personal view,'' she said.

See also:
» Positive non-legislation Hong Kong iMail editorial on this issue
» Definitions: Cult

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