Secretary for Justice Paul Lam on Tuesday said he hasn't heard anyone opposing the government's plan to enact Basic Law Article 23 national security legislation, adding that this is because everyone in Hong Kong understands the importance of introducing the new laws.
Lam, Chief Executive John Lee and other officials met representatives from about 100 foreign consulates and local and overseas business chambers in the afternoon to discussed the planned legislation.
"I haven't heard anyone not supporting the legislation. I think all Hongkongers and friends from other countries understand that we have the constitutional duty [to enact Article 23 laws] and we have to fulfil it. We have the consensus in this area," Lam said.
On whether a "public interest" defence should be added to the planned offence of leaking state secrets, the justice secretary said the government is collecting more views on this from various sectors.
"Even if we add this defence, the threshold must not be low. There are many things to consider, which includes whether there is urgency, or how big the public interest is," he said.
"We hope to collect more views through discussions. This will help us when we are drafting the law, in order to make it more precise and clear. We want to ensure people can know whether there is such a defence, and if yes, what is the criterion."
An ongoing public consultation exercise on the Article 23 proposals will last until February 28.