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Last Updated: Monday, 7 July, 2003, 12:09 GMT 13:09 UK
HK leader under fire over bill
Hong Kong Chief Executive Tung Chee-Hwa
Pressure mounts against Mr Tung
Hong Kong's newspapers believe Chief Executive Tung Chee-Hwa faces a tough time following his government's climb-down over the controversial security bill.

Mr Tung announced that the government would postpone voting on the bill, Article 23, after a key ally, Liberal Party Legislator James Tien, withdrew his backing and resigned from a top policymaking body.

"James Tien's sudden resignation from the Executive Council late last night has dealt a mortal blow to Chief Executive Tung Chee-hwa," writes The Hong Kong Standard.

The paper dismisses the series of concessions the Hong Kong chief made to the proposed legislation less than 48 hours before he announced the decision to shelve it.

"Did Tung really think that by announcing a few changes he would simply walk the bill through parliament? If he did he is living in cloud cuckoo land."

There is now a need for a calm, thoughtful and rational approach to Article 23
South China Morning Post

This sentiment is echoed in the daily Ming Pao. The paper cites analysts as saying that the Hong Kong administration has "lost much authority as a government" and calls for an immediate cabinet reshuffle.

Call for change

An editorial in the Beijing-backed Ta Kung Pao says that the government must "take the initiative and carry out a comprehensive and earnest inspection of all current government administration".

The paper stresses the needed "to acknowledge areas which are actually harming public interests and dampening public enthusiasm".

The South China Morning Post is less critical of Mr Tung and urges Beijing to be "a little more accommodating" on the issue.

It also calls on the opposition Democratic Party to "show restraint" after Mr Tung's climb-down and steer clear of "engaging in machismo politics, stepping up the attacks on Mr Tung and provoking the mainland".

The Democratic Party is distorting facts, fomenting social conflicts, inciting dissatisfaction and misleading the masses
Renmin Ribao

"It is in everyone's interests to avoid a long-running, bitter and divisive clash in Hong Kong, as well as a confrontation with the central government. There is now a need for a calm, thoughtful and rational approach to Article 23."

Beijing silent

Mainland Chinese newspapers have not been seen to comment on James Tien's resignation. Instead, they carry a Xinhua news agency report from Hong Kong outlining the proposed amendments to the law.

The report stresses the importance of pressing ahead with the legislative process. Beijing continues to insist that the bill is approved as scheduled.

A commentator in the Communist Party paper Renmin Ribao criticises the Democratic Party for "distorting facts, fomenting social conflicts, inciting dissatisfaction and misleading the masses and the international opinion as well".

"Once the legislation of the Article 23 is completed, people in Hong Kong will see no loss of the rights and freedom provided as before," the paper says.

BBC Monitoring, based in Caversham in southern England, selects and translates information from radio, television, press, news agencies and the Internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages.

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