Rita Fans rejects talk of campaign against 'one country, two systems'

Legco ex-president denies there is any campaign against ‘one country, two systems’

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 27 October, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 27 October, 2012, 2:55am

Veteran Beijing loyalist Rita Fan Hsu Lai-tai has dismissed a suggestion that remarks by ex-justice minister Elsie Leung Oi-sie and former mainland official Chen Zuoer were an attempt to undermine the "one country, two systems" formula.

Fan, a member of the National People's Congress Standing Committee, said the two had the right to air their personal opinions.

Chen, former deputy director of the Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office, said on Wednesday "the rise of a pro-independence force is spreading like a virus".

Fan said: "As a former mainland official, he must be saddened by Hongkongers waving the Union Jack in protests. I would like to ask [those youngsters] if they know what messages will be sent to others when they take out the flag?"

She also addressed Leung's claim the legal profession in the city, including judges, lacked an understanding of the relationship between Hong Kong and Beijing. Leung said this had given rise to mistakes in top court rulings and, in her view, superseded the central government's power.

"I think people have overreacted to her words and given them too much weight," Fan said. "[The remarks], in fact, can't affect judicial independence."

Fan, a former president of the Legislative Council who will seek re-election to the NPC Standing Committee next year, called the "one country, two systems" formula deep-rooted. "There is absolutely no one who means to destroy it."

But she said any system was open to challenge.

On the same day Chen spoke out, retiring judge Mr Justice Kemal Bokhary issued a veiled attack on forces he suggested wanted to deprive Hong Kong of its independent judiciary, saying clouds heralding a "storm of unprecedented ferocity" were gathering over the rule of law.

Leung's comments also prompted a strong reaction from the Law Society and the Bar Association in defence of Hong Kong's independent judiciary.

Meanwhile, CCTV reported the PLA's Hong Kong Garrison recently conducted its largest ever military drill in the New Territories, prompting political analysts to describe it as an attempt to scare off pro-independence forces in the city.

"No matter what intentions they have, in the public's eyes, the drill was echoing Chen's remarks," said Hong Kong-based political commentator Johnny Lau Yui-siu. "It is harmful to the 'one country, two systems' principle and makes people think the principle has disappeared."

Lau said officials, such as Chen, who applied stereotypes to Hongkongers would intensify conflict with the mainland.

Social activists, meanwhile, staged a protest outside the government headquarters at Admiralty yesterday against what they said was a deterioration in areas such as freedom of press and assembly.