'HK rule of law hasn't deteriorated'

PUBLISHED : Friday, 01 June, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 01 June, 2012, 12:00am


The rule of law in Hong Kong has not deteriorated despite interpretations of the Basic Law by Beijing, the new president of the Law Society says.

But Dieter Yih says another interpretation of the mini-constitution by the National People's Congress Standing Committee to curb the influx of mainland babies would be controversial.

'Each interpretation of the Basic Law created worries, but after the [four] such instances since the handover, I feel the rule of law has not deteriorated,' he said yesterday.

Yih was speaking during his first encounter with journalists since he succeeded Junius Ho Kwan-yiu as president last week.

If there was an interpretation on whether mainland babies born in Hong Kong should have right of abode, he said it should be based on a live case, not an old one.

In March, 30 local deputies of the National People's Congress signed a petition to the Standing Committee urging a reinterpretation while some called for amendments to the Immigration Ordinance to trigger a court case.

At the centre of the debate is a Court of Final Appeal ruling in 2001 that mainland babies born in Hong Kong had right of abode regardless of their parents' nationality.

Yih also called for the next Secretary for Justice to seek more opportunities for Hong Kong lawyers, such as in the Shenzhen development zone of Qianhai.

'Seeking opportunities for solicitors ... is one of my top priorities,' said Yih, chief of the city's biggest lawyer association and a veteran in corporate practice over the past 24 years.

'We hope the next secretary for justice will co-operate more with us and create more opportunities for lawyers.'

Speaking on expectations that the job will go to barrister Rimsky Yuen Kwok-keung, he said: 'I like him as a person and have known him for years.'

While Yuen's membership in the provincial Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference in Guangdong has brought controversy, Yih said everyone should be aware of potential conflict of interest in roles they took and Yuen had enough experience to make such a decision.

On the possibility that legal sector lawmaker Margaret Ng Ngoi-yee, a barrister and Civic Party member, may not seek re-election to Legco in September, Yih said he hoped the next representative could 'do more for solicitors'.