Le­gal sec­tor sup­ports court de­ci­sion

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - FRONT PAGE - By LUIS LIU in Hong Kong luis­liu@chi­nadai­lyhk.com

Hong Kong’s le­gal pro­fes­sion­als sup­port the court’s de­ci­sion to dis­qual­ify four law­mak­ers from their mem­ber­ship of the Leg­isla­tive Coun­cil.

Bar­ris­ter-at-law and leg­is­la­tor Priscilla Le­ung Mei-fun said the judg­ment “re­stored the dig­nity of LegCo” and clar­i­fied the re­quire­ment laid down in the “one coun­try, two sys­tems” prin­ci­ple and the Ba­sic Law.

The dis­qual­i­fied law­mak­ers should blame no one but them­selves, she added. Such dis­re­spect­ful acts demon­strated their ir­re­spon­si­bil­ity to them­selves and to vot­ers.

She hoped the judg­ment would send a clear mes­sage to Hong Kong peo­ple and fu­ture LegCo can­di­dates about the im­por­tance of the oath and also al­le­giance to the city and the coun­try.

An­other lawyer-turned law­maker Ju­nius Ho Kwan-yiu said the rul­ing “brought or­der out of a chaos”. It of­fers a chance for so­ci­ety to have a brand new start af­ter so much po­lit­i­cal wran­gling.

Ho said he re­spected the de­ci­sions by Hong Kong vot­ers. How­ever, a law­maker had to re­spect the rule of law.

Bar­ris­ter and Chair­man of the China-Aus­tralia Le­gal Ex­change Foun­da­tion Lawrence Ma Yan-kwok said he no­ticed some new points in the judg­ment.

“The judge showed ac­cept- ance and re­spect to the pre­vi­ous in­ter­pre­ta­tion by the Na­tional Peo­ple’s Congress Stand­ing Com­mit­tee (NPCSC),” Ma said. He said this had changed an ear­lier im­pres­sion that Hong Kong’s courts seem to pre­fer us­ing lo­cal or­di­nances when they alone can solve a case.

This could be seen as a step for­ward for lo­cal courts in terms of up­hold­ing the “one coun­try, two sys­tems” prin­ci­ple.

He said an­other change is that the judge put more em­pha­sis on their ex­pres­sions, acts and be­hav­ior be­fore and af­ter the inau­gu­ra­tion, in­stead of just fo­cus­ing on the oath it­self. This may set a prece­dent for fu­ture cases, Ma said.

Ba­sic Law ex­pert Song Sio­chong said the judg­ment was strictly in line with last year’s Ba­sic Law in­ter­pre­ta­tion. This safe­guards the spe­cial administrative re­gion’s and the coun­try’s dig­nity, he said.

The pro­fes­sor at the Re­search Cen­ter of Hong Kong and Ma­cao Ba­sic Law, Shen­zhen Univer­sity hoped the case could set an ex­am­ple for all mem­bers of Hong Kong’s gov­ern­ing in­sti­tu­tions. It showed that a NPCSC in­ter­pre­ta­tion must be re­spected in the city.

Some peo­ple in so­ci­ety had been sur­prised by the law­suit. But Vice-Pres­i­dent of the Chi­nese As­so­ci­a­tion of Hong Kong and Ma­cao Stud­ies Lau Siu-kai said these peo­ple had un­der­es­ti­mated the de­ter­mi­na­tion of the SAR gov­ern­ment and the cen­tral gov­ern­ment to safe­guard the dig­nity of the “one coun­try, two sys­tems” prin­ci­ple and the author­ity of the Ba­sic Law.

He said the move showed the cen­tral gov­ern­ment would not al­low any­one to in­sult the na­tion and Ba­sic Law for po­lit­i­cal ad­van­tage.

The dis­qual­i­fi­ca­tion was also rec­og­nized by mem­bers of the pub­lic. The city’s big­gest po­lit­i­cal party — the Demo­cratic Al­liance for the Bet­ter­ment and Progress of Hong Kong is­sued a state­ment that the High Court rul­ing had “clar­i­fied what is right”. It has safe­guarded the Ba­sic Law, rule of law and the dig­nity of the leg­is­la­ture.

The judg­ment re­stored the dig­nity of LegCo and clar­i­fied the re­quire­ment laid down in the ‘one coun­try, two sys­tems’ prin­ci­ple and the Ba­sic Law.”

Priscilla Le­ung Mei-fun, bar­ris­ter and leg­is­la­tor

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