Legal groups urge respect for ruling on radio

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 12 January, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 12 January, 2008, 12:00am

Two groups of Hong Kong legal professionals have urged Citizens' Radio activists and members of the public to respect court orders relating to the pirate radio station.

The Bar Association and Law Society appeals came as a new unlicensed radio station was readied to start broadcasts if the legally embattled Citizens' Radio is shut down.

A Bar Association statement yesterday said an injunction was a court order which must be obeyed unless it was set aside.

'A litigant should not take the law into his own hands even if he thinks that it is unfair and unjust,' the association said. 'Any party who feels aggrieved by a court's decision should make use of the due process of law to raise whatever challenges he wants.'

The association was referring to the resumption of broadcasting by Citizens' Radio for an hour on Thursday in defiance of a Court of First Instance injunction prohibiting it from broadcasting until next Friday.

Citizens' Radio ignored the injunction obtained by the government amid uncertainty over the status of licensing laws which were ruled unconstitutional by a magistrate who then suspended his decision pending an appeal by the government.

In a separate statement, the Law Society said that whatever the battle between the government and the radio station, a court decision should be respected. 'If certain members of the community fail in this, there is a risk that the respect and trust that we have in courts will be undermined,' the society said.

Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development Frederick Ma Si-hang said the rule of law was the cornerstone of Hong Kong's prosperity and he did not want to see anybody, including lawmakers, violate the spirit or rule of law.

Meanwhile, legislator Albert Chan Wai-yip went to police headquarters yesterday to register New People's Radio as a society. Mr Chan, a member of the League of Social Democrats, said the new station would take over from Citizens' Radio if it was forced to stop broadcasting, but did not aim to replace it.

He said: 'The aim of setting up this radio station is to protest against the government's suppression of free speech and to fight for the opening up of the airwaves.'

The application names Mr Chan as chairman, fellow league member and former legislator Michael Mak Kwok-fung as secretary and Chow Wai-hung as treasurer. Mr Chan hoped pirate radio stations would proliferate so the government would find it difficult to eradicate them all.