Magistrate urged to review suspension of radio ruling

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 15 January, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 15 January, 2008, 12:00am

Magistrate Douglas Yau Tak-hong should review his suspension last week of a ruling that the broadcasting licensing law is unconstitutional, a senior counsel said yesterday.

Martin Lee Chu-ming put forward the argument in another case involving similar charges before the same magistrate against activists involved in the operation of unlicensed station Citizens' Radio.

Mr Yau last Tuesday found that sections of the Telecommunications Ordinance dealing with licensing breached both the Basic Law and the Bill of Rights, and dismissed charges against six activists accused of unlicensed broadcasting.

But he suspended the decision pending an appeal by prosecutors, who cited a Court of Final Appeal ruling that a magistrate must allow time for such an appeal when a law is struck down, and adjourned the case to February 11.

Yesterday, Mr Lee said the top court's ruling was inapplicable to that case so the magistrate should review his decision.

The case for a review will be argued in full before Mr Yau tomorrow.

Over the protests of Mr Lee, Mr Yau adjourned the latest case to March 3, also to await the outcome of the appeal.

Mr Lee, appearing for veteran activist Szeto Wah, said the prosecution should go ahead immediately because every defendant was entitled to a swift hearing. But Mr Yau said proceeding now would be a waste of court time and public money.

Yesterday's case involved subsequent summonses against activists including Mr Szeto, lawmaker 'Long Hair' Leung Kwok-hung, radio host Peter Lam Yuk-wah, RTHK unionist Mak Chi-hang, Citizens' Radio convenor Tsang Kin-shing and Lo Hom-chau, accused of unlicensed broadcasting in Mong Kok from March to May last year.

Outside court, Mr Szeto, backed by about 30 supporters, said the latest adjournment was annoying and should have been avoided because he should not have been prosecuted before the earlier cases were settled.