• Sun
  • Aug 31, 2014
  • Updated: 1:38am
NewsHong Kong

Top justice officials back independence of Hong Kong courts

PUBLISHED : Monday, 13 January, 2014, 8:22pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 14 January, 2014, 4:19am

The two most senior figures in Hong Kong's judicial system yesterday defended the independence of the courts in the face of calls by Beijing officials for more "co-operation" between the three branches of government and public abuse of judges.

Chief Justice Geoffrey Ma Tao-li said public confidence in the judiciary's integrity rested "on a truly independent judiciary, judges who look no further than the proper application of the law, both in letter and in spirit, and the importance of ensuring transparency in all that the courts do in order to demonstrate the integrity of the law". Meanwhile, Secretary for Justice Rimsky Yuen Kwok-keung lambasted people who he said had resorted to "abusive attacks" on judges for reaching decisions with which they did not agree.

He added that "true respect of the rule of law" meant people should exercise their rights within the boundaries permitted by the law. The pair were speaking at the opening ceremony for the 2014 legal year.

Asked about Beijing officials' view that there ought to be "co-operation" between the executive, legislature and judiciary, Ma said the Basic Law stipulated clearly and repeatedly that Hong Kong exercised separation of these powers.

Liaison office propaganda chief Hao Tiechuan last year poured cold water on the idea that Hong Kong exercised separation of powers because the chief executive had more power than the legislature and the judiciary. Rejecting "abusive attacks" on judges, Yuen said: "Some have even indicated that they would compile a list of judges whom they considered politically biased and would request their removal.

"However well-intended their subjective motives might be, such conduct should not be encouraged," he said.

"Deliberate attempts to act in breach of the law, even for causes which may sound noble, should not be encouraged."

Radical lawmaker "Long Hair" Leung Kwok-hung last year called for a "civil monitor" on judges' performance after several magistrates' sentences on protesters were reduced on appeal.

The top court sparked controversy last month by ruling that new immigrants no longer had to wait seven years to receive welfare benefits. Without addressing any particular case, Ma described certain public law cases as difficult and a test to "the demarcation lines between the legislature, the executive and the judiciary". But he said the constitutional line was clear. "Courts and judges deal only with the legal issues arising in the disputes that come before them and we determine only these legal issues."

Ma remained tight-lipped on political topics including public nominations for the chief executive and the Occupy Central civil disobedience plan. He said they were "hypothetical" and it was beyond his constitutional role to comment.

Bar Association chairman Paul Shieh Wing-tai said if the government wanted to reject a Basic Law-compliant reform proposal on political grounds, it should "call a spade a spade".

He added: "What we do not want to see is for political objections to be presented as legal objections."



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This article is now closed to comments

HK-Lover's comments are right on. Why is wearing horse hair wigs even an issue? It's the judicial system that counts. Compare our system, as established by the British over 150 years, with the Communist Party controlled legal system in the Mainland and ask yourself..."Which system do I prefer"? The answer is obvious.
the sun also rises
Judge Ma has rightly pointed out that both the 'civil nomination' and 'Occupy Central' campaign are hypotheitical issues as the former can hardly be carried out due to technical and financial problems in town while the latter will never be staged once we are offered a geniune universal suffrage---the right to nominate candidates, to be voted and to vote in an election (e.g.the universal suffrage in 2017). Right ?
The American began to dump horsehair scalps in 1776
By mid 19th century, wigs disappeared from US law courts
Wigs symbolize falsehood and dependence
which contradict judicial honesty and independence
CFA judges eschew wearing silly wigs
Let’s see if Chief Judge A Cheung may be our John Marshall
who wisely started the practice of not wearing the funny wig
Our independent judiciary is one of the reasons why our Hong Kong has the good standing and respect among Asia nations and in the world. We shall be grateful for that.
It doesn't matter whether they still wear the outfit from colonial times because it is in fact the colonial times that have brought us this freedom of having an independent judiciary that can give us a peace if mind, at least in respect to the rule of law.
Let us not be put off by the wardrobe.
Judicial independence is vital to the survival of Hong Kong.
The advocacy of piglet and range hood demonstrates a standard
that explains why the likes of Lee Eu Leung Ng … are often silent
in non mundane case of any significance
for which HK courts admit London silks who
apart from legal persuasiveness if there were such
may prove less hackneyed
less soporific
when donning a horsehair scalp
one would look stupid if pretending to be serious
and must act suitably funny
Who's the naughty boy looking at his watch then?
And the one next to him watching him watching the watch.
Man, a bunch of professional men still keeping these wig traditions.................looks so gay.
What, you mean they look lighthearted and care free? I didn't realise that was the effect of a wig.




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