HK Basic Law Committee is definitely not just a rubber stamp

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 27 August, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 27 August, 2011, 12:00am


I refer to the report ('Beijing to bring HK courts into line', August 25).

The headline implies that the Standing Committee (SC) of the National People's Congress (NPC) imposes on the Hong Kong courts a decision they would not otherwise come to.

In fact, the proposed interpretation is in response to the referral of the Court of Final Appeal in accordance with Article 158 (3) of the Basic Law and the court has already come to certain views in its provisional judgment which are consistent with the draft interpretation.

The comments by Eric Cheung Tat-ming that the Hong Kong Basic Law Committee is just a rubber stamp are regrettable. The committee was established pursuant to the decision of the NPC made on April 4, 1990, to study questions arising from the implementation of Articles 17, 18, 158 and 159 of the Basic Law and to submit its views to the NPCSC.

It holds at least three meetings in a year to study issues relating to the Basic Law and discuss cases which may have an implication on the development of Hong Kong's legal system, of which the Basic law is the constitutional framework. This is because the Basic Law Committee must be well prepared before it is called upon to carry out its function under the said four articles to submit its views to the NPCSC.

It would appear that Mr Cheung was not aware that when the draft resolution and explanation were presented to the NPCSC, simultaneously a separate report was submitted by the Basic Law Committee expressing its views on the draft resolution.

The Hong Kong Basic Law Committee report was distributed to all members of the NPCSC and those attending the meeting together with the draft resolution.

The process of a decision on whether or not and how to interpret the relevant articles of the Basic Law is certainly not a rubber stamping process. Six NPC delegates from Hong Kong went to Beijing to attend the meeting, so they could be at each of the six discussion groups to explain the relevant issues to the NPCSC members and those attending in order that Hong Kong's voice might be heard by every NPCSC member.

Hong Kong members of the Hong Kong Basic Law Committee also attended the discussion. It is necessary to explain to them the legal system in Hong Kong and the need for interpretation because of the difference between the two systems.

Elsie Leung, vice-chairman, Hong Kong Basic Law Committee