The bill that aims to establish a new milestone to prevent and fight domestic violence by, among other aspects, categorizing it a public crime, was finally approved on Friday in the Legislative Assembly (AL).
After a controversial debate that lasted several years, the proposal was approved at AL’s plenary session with 28 votes in favor and only 1 absentee. The absentee was lawmaker Fong Chi Keong whose comments and opinions on the bill back in January 2015, caused outrage in the local community, leading to a creation of a petition that was co-signed by more than 6,000 residents, urging the lawmaker to retract and publicly apologize for his remarks.
The law, now approved, will be in force 120 days after its official publication in the government’s official gazette.
During the debate, lawmakers called on ways and means in which the government can prevent cases of rape from occurring and discussed how the government was prepared to respond to cases of abuse.
Both the Social Welfare Bureau (IAS) president Vong Yim Mui and the Secretary for Social Affairs and Culture, Alexis Tam, claimed that the law provides an interdepartmental mechanism to provide support at several levels. They said that IAS departments are “ready” to work as the law enters into force.
Regarding legal support, Alexis Tam also added that IAS has a wide experience in contacting the victims of this act. “When the cases are very technical, the lawyers from IAS can request support from others from other public services, namely DSAJ [Legal Affairs Bureau],” he said
As a final remark after the voting and approval of the bill, Tam said that the law now approved “showing the commitment of the government and the legislative assembly in responding to solve the problems solicited by the population,” adding that “the government believes the publication of this law will further curb the occurrence of such cases and allow, in case of any unfortunate occurrence, an early detection and intervention to protect the victim from an act on the criminal liability of the offender.”
The secretary acknowledged that “the work of the government doesn’t end in the approval of the law,” promising continuous work in order to disclose the law and update it when necessary.
Private Notaries’ new professional bylaws passed
The amendments proposed in a new bill that aims to change the professional bylaws of the private notaries were approved at the bill’s first reading.
The proposal, presented by the Secretary for Administration and Justice Sonia Chan, garnered the consensus of the lawmakers. However, a few issues were raised, necessitating a further discussion in the standing committee that will handle this bill.
Two of the most concerned were lawmakers Song Pek Kei and Lionel Alves. The first expressed doubts regarding the number of new licenses that the government plans to add, as well as the gap between the training courses, which in her opinion “should be set for a period of every 5 years.”
Alves presented a problem regarding the fact that the bill allows registrars to apply to the position of Notary. The lawyer disagreed with the inclusion of this access to profession for registrars since, in his opinion “these professionals have little or no knowledge of commercial and contract laws and are not use to deal with negotiable documents.”
Chan replied that these problems would be addressed when the document reaches the discussion in the specific committee.