• Thu
  • Dec 25, 2014
  • Updated: 1:41pm

Kemal Bokhary

Kemal Bokhary is the former permanent judge of Hong Kong’s Court of Final Appeal. Bokhary qualified as a barrister in the United Kingdom at 23 but returned to work in Hong Kong, where he was born. He has served as one of the four permanent judges in the Court of Final Appeal since 1997. Bokhary is known for his sense of humour in court. He stepped down on October 24, 2012 – a day before he turned 65.

 

NewsHong Kong
LAW

Retiring Court of Final Appeal judge Kemal Bokhary warns of legal turmoil

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 25 October, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 25 October, 2012, 11:46am
 

Poll

  • Yes: 78%
  • No: 22%
25 Oct 2012
  • Yes
  • No
Total number of votes recorded: 483

Clouds heralding a "storm of unprecedented ferocity" are gathering over the rule of law in Hong Kong, a retiring judge of the top court said yesterday.

Mr Justice Kemal Bokhary said "talk about reinterpreting a decision of the courts of long standing" was one specific element of the storm - "and the atmosphere created by the mere fact that this call is being made will constitute the rest of it".

Bokhary was understood to be referring to calls for a reinterpretation of a 2001 Court of Final Appeal ruling which conferred automatic residency on babies born to mainland parents in Hong Kong.

He also disagreed with Basic Law Committee vice-chairwoman Elsie Leung Oi-sie's contention that the top court had made mistakes in the past.

"I think the storm clouds come from anybody, whether he or she may be one who doesn't appreciate the 'one country, two systems principle'," Bokhary said. The "one country, two systems" formula was designed to emphasise that "despite the fact that it's one country, it is two systems", he said.

Leung, the former secretary for justice, said earlier this month that the legal profession in Hong Kong, including judges, lacked an understanding of the relationship between Hong Kong and Beijing. She said this had given rise to mistakes in previous rulings in which the top court, in her view, had superseded the central government's power.

She also said asking Beijing to interpret the Basic Law was the best way to curb the influx of mainlanders giving birth.

"Ms Leung has expressed her views, which she is perfectly entitled to," Bokhary said. "Equally, people who have disagreed with her are perfectly entitled to express their disagreement. I haven't agreed with them."

Regarding Leung's claim that judges had made mistakes in previous rulings, Bokhary said: "She thinks we had, but we hadn't."

He did not think her comments had hurt the judicial system. "You can't jeopardise the independence of justice in Hong Kong by expressing views. If her views were acted upon, the situation might be different. Justice would be very delicate if it was jeopardised every time somebody said something."

Asked whether there had been changes in people's rights since Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying took office, Bokhary said: "No. I don't think things would have been any different if there had been a different chief executive. The commitment of the people to the rule of law and freedom in Hong Kong is, I think, unshakeable."

Bokhary, 65, stepped down yesterday as a judge of the top court. He will continue to serve as a non-permanent judge hearing cases only occasionally. Bokhary said he was sorry to go, "mainly because there may be problems and I will be on the sidelines".

Share

For unlimited access to:

SCMP.com SCMP Tablet Edition SCMP Mobile Edition 10-year news archive
 
 

 

 
 
 
 
 
5

This article is now closed to comments

raymak629
I think today Poll by SCMP "Was the 2001 court ruling to grant residency to Hong Kong-born mainland babies a mistake?" is misleading or deceiving people the more important thing behind the whole issue. The major point should be if the court make the judgement according to Hong Kong Law. Also, whether rule of law can be trade-off or compromise with something else.
chaz_hen
He did not get any extension because he is not ethnically Chinese and therefore a "****". Beijing won't be satisfied until every high level of HK government is run by its stooges and everyone is speaking Mandarin.
One country, one system in a few years...
chaz_hen
The "****" that was censored by the SCMP referred to that lovely Cantonese word for "foreign devils"
clumsypama
that's it??? that's all scmp has on this topic??? omg!!!
captam
Feeling a bit sore are we, for not getting that extension?

Login

SCMP.com Account

or