Carrie Lam: Co-lo­ca­tion plan ‘won’t com­pro­mise rule of law’

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

Chief Ex­ec­u­tive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor stressed on Tues­day that the co-lo­ca­tion ar­range­ment at the West Kowloon high­speed rail ter­mi­nus “will not com­pro­mise the rule of law”.

She made the re­mark as the Hong Kong SAR Gov­ern­ment an­nounced fi­nal plans for the ar­range­ment.

Lam said Hong Kong is a city un­der the rule of law. She be­lieved the plan is in strict ac­cor­dance with the “one coun­try, two sys­tems” pol­icy and the Ba­sic Law.

The co-lo­ca­tion plan also guar­an­tees the prin­ci­ple of “high de­gree of au­ton­omy” and “Hong Kong peo­ple ad­min­is­ter­ing Hong Kong”, Lam added.

“This is not a ques­tion of choice be­tween con­ve­nience to pas­sen­gers us­ing the high­speed rail and the rule of law in Hong Kong,” Lam said. “There is no ques­tion of that con­cern and worry that we are com­pro­mis­ing on the rule of law, on ‘one coun­try, two sys­tems’, in or­der to get the con­ve­nience of the high­speed rail.”

Lam re­it­er­ated that the high-speed rail will bring enor­mous eco­nomic and so­cial ben­e­fits to Hong Kong. She called on the peo­ple of Hong Kong and leg­is­la­tors to take an ob­jec­tive and prac­ti­cal view of the plan and fo­cus on the check­point ar­range­ment it­self, in­stead of any po­lit­i­cal il­lu­sion.

Some law­mak­ers from the op­po­si­tion camp said they will not rule out fil­i­bus­ter­ing tac­tics to block the plan from ob­tain­ing Leg­isla­tive Coun­cil ap­proval.

How­ever Lam re­mained de­ter­mined to push for­ward the plan as it helps max­i­mize the rail link’s eco­nomic and so­cial ben­e­fits.

Le­gal ex­perts backed the plan fol­low­ing scru­tiny. Al­bert Chen Hung-yee, law pro­fes­sor at the Univer­sity of Hong Kong and a mem­ber of the Hong Kong Ba­sic Law Com­mit­tee of the Na­tional Peo­ple’s Congress Stand­ing Com­mit­tee (NPCSC), said the ar­range­ment is in­no­va­tive. As long as the NPCSC makes a de­ci­sion, the plan does not con­flict with the Ba­sic Law, Chen said.

Hong Kong so­ci­ety largely wel­comed the plan. The city’s big­gest po­lit­i­cal party, the Demo­cratic Al­liance for the Bet­ter­ment and Progress of Hong Kong (DAB), said in a state­ment that a co-lo­ca­tion ar­range­ment is a nec­es­sary and nor­mal prac­tice. The model had proved a suc­cess at the Shen­zhen Bay Port check­point, which many Hong Kong res­i­dents had per­sonal ex­pe­ri­ence of, the DAB said.

A DAB sur­vey found more than 86 per­cent of re­spon­dents wel­come the high­speed rail in Hong Kong and sup­port the co-lo­ca­tion ar­range­ment.

The city’s busi­ness sec­tor strongly sup­ported the plan. Pres­i­dent of the Chi­nese Man­u­fac­tur­ers’ As­so­ci­a­tion of Hong Kong Eddy Li Sauhung said the co-lo­ca­tion was long-ex­pected by the so­ci­ety. It short­ens the travel time be­tween places, which will sig­nif­i­cantly en­hance the con­nec­tiv­ity of peo­ple, goods and busi­nesses, Li said.

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