Historic vote sees CFA bill pass by wide margin
THE Sino-British accord over the Court of Final Appeal passed into law last night when the Legislative Council voted for the deal by a wide margin after an 11-hour debate.
Thirty-eight voted in favour. The 15 Democratic Party legislators were joined by only two others in voting against it. There were three abstentions.
Last night's historic vote put an end to bumpy negotiations in the Joint Liaison Group (JLG) since 1988 over a court to replace the Privy Council.
It laid the legal ground for the two sides to make preparation in the next two years for the official commencement of the court on July 1, 1997.
Delighted with the outcome, Governor Chris Patten said the vote ended uncertainty surrounding the issue and ensured the continuity of the rule of law. 'I am sure it will be welcomed by the whole community and by international investors as a vote of confidence in Hong Kong's future.' Under the five-point deal struck by the JLG last month, preparations will now be undertaken by the takeover authorities for the Special Administrative Region, known as the 'team designate'.
The British side will be allowed to 'participate and give assistance'. Chief Secretary Anson Chan Fang On-sang said the administration would now 'be getting on with the practical arrangements for the CFA'.