Campaign push for chief justice

PUBLISHED : Friday, 28 February, 1997, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 28 February, 1997, 12:00am

Supporters of appeal court judge Justice Benjamin Liu Chi-ming have stepped up lobbying for him to be the post-handover chief justice.

It is understood lawyers backing Mr Justice Liu have been seeking support from Preparatory Committee members and a former judge.

He is believed to be favoured by Xinhua (the New China News Agency), while Chief Executive-designate Tung Chee-hwa backs barrister and Executive Councillor Andrew Li Kwok-nang.

'I have heard Justice Liu is supported by all members of the post-handover executive council except former chief justice Yang Ti Liang,' said a lawyer.

'I was invited to a meal, organised by a Queen's Counsel, said to be celebrating in advance Justice Liu's appointment to future chief justice,' the lawyer said.

The meal was held two months ago in the name of celebrating Mr Justice Liu's promotion to the Court of Appeal - which took place two years ago.

Some lawyers are concerned about Mr Justice Liu's possible appointment, because he has expressed his personal opinion on several controversial issues. They said this was inappropriate because judges must be perceived as impartial.

In a speech this month at a Los Angeles university, Mr Justice Liu backed the Preparatory Committee's decision to dilute human rights laws.

The Bar Association said his comments could hurt the Judiciary because he might one day have to rule on the laws in court.

But a barrister said there was no rule judges should avoid comment on current issues. 'Judges in Britain have commented publicly on whether the death penalty is needed. It depends on what is meant by controversial.' Mr Justice Liu was not available for comment. Margaret Ng - Page 21