Former judge Bokhary: 'I was ousted for being too liberal'
One of the city's best-known judges believes his liberal rulings are behind the government's decision not to extend his term of service beyond his retirement.
Mr Justice Kemal Bokhary, 65, stepped down on October 24 as a permanent judge of the Court of Final Appeal. In a surprise announcement in March, his job went to Mr Justice Robert Tang Ching, who is nine months older.
In an interview broadcast by ATV on its Newsline programme last night, Bokhary also said the former justice secretary Elsie Leung Oi-sie had been wrong to say local judges did not understand the relations between Beijing and Hong Kong, and he confirmed a WikiLeaks report that all the judges of Hong Kong's top court had considered quitting after Beijing overturned their ruling on the right of abode in 1999.
During the 30-minute programme, Bokhary told Michael Chugani, the programme's host: "If you were asking if I believe that the reason why I wasn't extended is because of my liberal judgements, then I would tell you that I do believe that."
The ending of Bokhary's term sparked an outcry, but the judiciary said he had served for more than 15 years on the highest court and there were no exceptional circumstances justifying a continuation of his tenure.
Bokhary will continue to serve as a non-permanent judge, hearing cases only occasionally. He has said he is sorry to go.
On his departure last month, he suggested forces were trying to deprive the city of its independent judiciary. Bokhary elaborated last night, saying there were signs that the rule of law was under threat, referring to Leung's suggestion to seek Beijing's help in curbing the influx of mainland mothers-to-be.
"I think we understand [the relations between China and Hong Kong] perfectly well," Bokhary said.