'Rule of law still working'

PUBLISHED : Monday, 14 June, 1999, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 14 June, 1999, 12:00am

The Court of Appeal's ruling in favour of 17 mainland 'overstayers' last Friday showed the rule of law had not been undermined, according to the Government.

But the Bar Association said legal disputes triggered by the reinterpretation furore would repeatedly put judges' independence to the test.

Principal government counsel Gilbert Mo Sik-keung, speaking at RTHK's City Forum yesterday, said Friday's ruling proved judicial independence had not been undermined by the move to seek reinterpretation of the Basic Law.

'The Court of Appeal's judgment made two days ago was something the Government is not happy to see.

'If we say judicial independence has been challenged, why is there such an outcome?' he asked.

The court ruled the Director of Immigration should not seek to repatriate 17 'overstayers' claiming right of abode without first considering their residency status.

Bar Association council member Alan Leong Kar-kit, SC, said disputes triggered by the reinterpretation of the Basic Law would have to be resolved by the courts.

'Should we subject judges to repeated tests for cases which may blow up into constitutional crises?' he asked.

Director of the China Law Programme at the Chinese University of Hong Kong Wong Kam-chau said: 'Seeking reinterpretation by Beijing is wrong. One house cannot hold two masters.'