Lawyers face judgment by jury of peers

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 10 September, 1995, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 10 September, 1995, 12:00am

THE three candidates for the legal functional constituency are all playing to their strengths.

For Donald Yap, former Law Society president and a Hong Kong affairs adviser, his good relations with China appear to be sufficient to outdo his opponents.

Barrister Margaret Ng Ngoi-yee's journalistic and public relations skills and experience are evident as she portrays herself as the solicitors' 'advocate' to lift the profession's image and gain the community's trust.

And Philip Li Wai-ip - campaign agent for the previous legal constituency incumbent, Simon Ip Sik-on - hopes this time the limelight will shine on him. Candidates' supporters have posed embarrassing questions at their enemies.

From Ms Ng's liberal camp, former Bar Association chairman Jacqueline Leong suggested Mr Yap's commitments to attend international legal conferences would obstruct his Legco duties.

Mr Yap retorted that the conferences were during the summer recess and at weekends, but would consider resigning as the new president of LawAsia if necessary.

Ms Ng did not escape. She had appeared ignorant of the Consumer Council's findings on the Attorney-General's legal services consultation paper. Mr Yap's campaign manager dug out a letter sent to Mr Li's clients, and accused him of misleading them.

Achievements became double-edged swords in the legal contest which turned Mr Yap's 'track record' into 'heavy baggage', media veteran Ms Ng into a 'green' lawyer, and Mr Ip's disclosure of Law Society documents on the Court of Final Appeal into 'irresponsible and reckless' acts.

It was more telling to see how candidates defined their intended role - how the future representative of lawyers would carve his or her niche in Legco.

It appears Mr Li will be a servant of his electorate's 'silent majority', Mr Yap will pursue good relations around the world for the sake of lawyers' interests, while Ms Ng will argue the public and profession's interests are one.