• Sun
  • Dec 21, 2014
  • Updated: 10:10pm

Hong Kong should step up co-operation with Beijing and Guangdong over legal reform

PUBLISHED : Friday, 26 July, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 26 July, 2013, 2:35am

It was interesting to read your report in which Zheng E , head of Guangdong Higher People's Court, described the province's judicial system as an outdated Soviet-style model that treated the courts as just another government agency ("Top judge says court system is outdated", July 3).

He referred to the new pilot schemes in nearby Foshan and Shenzhen's Futian district, where judges are allowed to rule on their own cses without requiring guidance from their superiors.

If these pilot schemes develop successfully, they would be a bold step in modifying Guangdong's judicial system to meet the challenges of the global economy.

It is an opportune time for this to happen in view of the quickening pace of Hong Kong's economic integration with the Pearl River Delta cities and elsewhere on the mainland.

Also significant was the report in China Daily on July 5 quoting Zhou Qiang , president of the Supreme People's Court, in a speech he gave to chief judges from provincial-level courts.

He said that he was determined to restore the credibility of judges and to "uphold the rule of law".

He also said judges had to try their best to ensure justice was done and must be independent of government.

They must work with colleagues in other courts to "overcome regional and departmental protectionism".

Since he took office last year, Hong Kong's Secretary for Justice Rimsky Yuen Kwok-keung, has been stressing the importance of the rule of law as a fundamental factor in Hong Kong's "one country, two systems". He has said that it spans the gamut of what we stand for, in the past, present, and the future.

Major changes will not happen overnight.

We in Hong Kong should be patiently committed to promoting the opening and reform of China's legal and judicial systems, and the rule of law with consistency and transparency.

It would be timely, and not too early, for the Hong Kong administration to step up co-operation with the central government and Guangdong authorities to enhance the rule of law environment in Qianhai , Shenzhen's new financial centre.

In the long run it will be highly beneficial to both the Hong Kong SAR and the Pearl River Delta region in terms of mutual economic and social development.

Hilton Cheong-Leen, To Kwa Wan


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This article is now closed to comments

Look, that all sounds very noble and great, but sadly enough, there is little point in any such effort. At the end of the day, China cannot successfully aspire to have a 'rule of law' as long as its core government doctrine rejects the notion of a separation of powers. Without judicial independence from the executive/legislative branches, any application and interpretation will remain at the mercy of -often corrupt, crony or kleptocratic- government officials.

Until there is a fundamental (ie, constitutional) change in that situation, the Hong Kong legal community would be wise to keep a safe distance from its mainland counterpart. This, both to avoid giving the latter an aura of legitimacy it does by no means deserve, and, more importantly, to prevent a corruption or erosion of standards in what can well be considered last Hong Kong's last bastion against complete bananarepublicanation: its rule of law.
What about litigants? The legal system revolves around litigants,but they are ignored in most of the nations' judiciary. There are laws for judges and lawyers,but there is no law for litigants' protection vis-a-vis judiciary. There is one-sided law - contempt of court. Does not a corrupt judge hold the court in contempt? If a judge is biased towards a litigant,or does not apply his mind,he does not get punished. Appeal for such judgements is not the remedy. Do litigants have a role in appointing judges? Does any country have a litigants protection council? Are subjects like judicial corruption,and judicial accountability taught in law schools? The famous Indian philosopher Chanakya has said that one should even doubt the integrity of a judge. Can a litigant say in an open court,and get away? Or is it just a rhetoric? Time to ponder over. Are judges accountable for the judgements? Why should the judiciary be an institution for kings? Time to ponder over.


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