Top le­gal ex­pert de­mol­ishes op­po­si­tion’s view that Main­land Port Area will be ‘ceded land’

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - TOP NEWS - By JOSEPH LI in Hong Kong joseph@chi­nadai­lyhk.com

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.

PARKER ZHENG / CHINA DAILY

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.

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