Hong Kong Basic Law

Bernard Chan weighs in on Elsie Leung over legal sector attack

PUBLISHED : Monday, 15 October, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 15 October, 2012, 5:05am

The row over a withering attack by former secretary for justice Elsie Leung Oi-sie on the city's legal sector and judges is still simmering, with two more political heavyweights expressing their views yesterday.

Nine days ago Leung, vice-chairwoman of the Basic Law Committee, criticised the legal profession in Hong Kong, including judges, saying they lacked understanding of the relationship between Beijing and Hong Kong and that had given rise to mistakes in previous rulings in which the top court superseded the central government's power.

Inviting Beijing to interpret the Basic Law was the "most secure" solution to curbing the influx of mainland women coming here to give birth, she said.

Responding to Leung's remarks, Executive Councillor Bernard Chan said conflicts might arise as contact between the mainland and the city becomes more frequent, but Hong Kong should strive to maintain its judicial independence.

"It is not possible to change the independence of our legal system, as it is the edge of our competitiveness," said Chan. He stressed that Hong Kong operated under the "one country, two systems" principle.

Therefore, changing only one of the systems to curb the influx of mainland women coming here to give birth might not achieve the desirable results.

But New People's Party chairwoman Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee expressed a different view.

Ip said Leung's remarks did not affect the city's judicial independence, but meant judges had to take a broader view to interpret the Basic Law.

"Many lawyers and judges merely interpret the law from the principles of common law," Ip said.