Kemal Bokhary

What the judges said

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 16 December, 1999, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 16 December, 1999, 12:00am


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Chief Justice Andrew Li Kwok-nang: 'Hong Kong is at the early stage of the new order following resumption of sovereignty by the People's Republic of China. The implementation of the principle of 'one country, two systems', is a matter of fundamental importance, as is the reinforcement of national unity and territorial integrity. Protection of the national flag and the regional flag from desecration, having regard to their unique symbolism, will play an important part in the attainment of these goals. In these circumstances, there are strong grounds for concluding that the criminalisation of flag desecration is a justifiable restriction on the guaranteed right to the freedom of expression.' Mr Justice Kemal Bokhary: 'If these restrictions are permissible, where does it stop? It is a perfectly legitimate question. And the answer, as I see it, is that it stops where these restrictions are located. For they lie just within the outer limits of constitutionality. Beneath the national and regional flags and emblems, all persons in Hong Kong are - and can be confident that they will remain - equally free under our law to express their views on all matters whether political or non-political: saying what they like, when they like.' Mr Justice Henry Litton: 'I agree with the judgment of the Chief Justice.' Mr Justice Charles Ching: 'I also agree with the judgment of the Chief Justice.' Sir Anthony Mason: 'I agree with the judgment of the Chief Justice.'