Top legal expert demolishes opposition’s view that Mainland Port Area will be ‘ceded land’
Elsie Leung Oi-sie, deputy director of the Hong Kong Basic Law Committee under the National People’s Congress Standing Committee (NPCSC), says implementation of a co-location system of boundary control facilities in the West Kowloon Station complies with the Basic Law, predominantly based on Article 20.
Designating a zone inside the station as a Mainland Port Area (MPA) where mainland laws are exercised, and Hong Kong laws not applicable, is viable, she adds. Explaining the rationale, she believes the MPA will be “deemed as” not part of Hong Kong and will not practice the laws of Hong Kong.
She also condemned the opposition camp for scandalizing the arrangement as “ceding land”.
In an exclusive interview with China Daily, Leung said the Hong Kong section of Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong Express Rail Link is beneficial to the development of Hong Kong as it lets the city connect with the massive national high-speed rail network.
The Basic Law does not explicitly mention the co-location system but this does not mean it should not be done. “We should work together to find a way out, instead of preventing the co-location system from coming into being,” she pointed out.
She believes Article 20 of the Basic Law provides safe legal basis. The article stipulates that the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region may enjoy other powers granted to it by the National People’s Congress, the NPCSC or the Central People’s Government.
The SAR government will initiate a three-step process. After reaching a cooperation agreement with mainland authorities for lease of a site as the MPA in the station, the Hong Kong government will seek the approval of the NPCSC. Local legislation by the Legislative Council is then required to implement the co-location arrangement.
“Article 20 enables the Hong Kong government to do something, gives it certain status, privileges and responsibilities that it does not have originally. The SAR government is given more powers, not losing its powers,” she explained. “In this case, the NPCSC authorizes the Hong Kong SAR Government to sign the agreement and open an MPA in the station if it approves the application.”
Leung, also former secretary of justice, said the term “deemed as” is very common in the laws of Hong Kong. Cit- ing examples, she said the revision of stamp duty law that aimed to cool the property market was passed in 2014 but in the law it was written that the effective date “was deemed as” 2012 when it was first introduced into LegCo.
In the Hong Kong Reunification Ordinance, it was writ- ten that cases prosecuted before 1997 “are deemed” to be prosecuted by the SAR government after the reunification.
Leung slammed the opposition camp for describing the MPA in the West Kowloon Station as “ceded land”.
That was incorrect, she contended, because “ceded land” means losing possession of a site permanently without compensation.
She wondered why barristers and lawyers in the opposition camp do not understand. “Perhaps they always say something that they know in their hearts is not true,” Leung added.
Elsie Leung Oi-sie, deputy director of the Hong Kong Basic Law Committee, said designating a zone inside the West Kowloon Station as a Mainland Port Area, where mainland laws are exercised, is viable.