• Sun
  • Oct 26, 2014
  • Updated: 12:36pm
NewsHong Kong
POLITICS

Chris Patten and former British judge back rule of law in Hong Kong

Chris Patten and Lord Woolf echo senior local legal figures in speaking up for the importance of freedoms to Hong Kong’s future success

PUBLISHED : Friday, 21 March, 2014, 4:28am
UPDATED : Friday, 21 March, 2014, 4:55pm
 

Two high-profile British figures with close ties to Hong Kong yesterday stepped into the debate about the city's rule of law, echoing calls from local judicial figures to preserve its freedoms.

Former governor Chris Patten faced questions on local affairs as he attended an exhibition opening in his capacity as chancellor of the University of Oxford, while ex-judge Lord Woolf of Barnes spoke of the rule of law as a "precious treasure".

Their comments came after strongly worded remarks in the past week by former chief justice Andrew Li Kwok-nang and ex-justice secretary Wong Yan-lung. The concerns were sparked, in part, by last month's vicious attack on former Ming Pao newspaper editor Kevin Lau Chun-to and worries about diminishing free speech and press freedom.

"Even when you reported things about me suggesting that I was awful, I would always defend the right of the Hong Kong press to report freely and fairly on what's happening in the city," Patten told assembled journalists at the Maritime Museum. "Hong Kong's liberal society and free press, autonomous universities and the rule of law are all foundations of a free society."

Woolf, a former lord chief justice of England and Wales who was a non-permanent judge of Hong Kong's Court of Final Appeal, spoke to the South China Morning Post while at a conference in the city. "I think it's always wise to be vigilant," he said. "The rule of law is a very precious treasure … Hong Kong should guard it as such and make sure it's preserved."

Li spoke out on Friday to warn that the city should be "highly vigilant" in protecting its core values. Wong joined the debate on Tuesday, saying: "We have to be particularly vigilant in our unprecedented constitutional order of 'one country, two systems'."

Wong added: "The heightened vigilance to protect the rule of law is also necessitated by the rapid integration between Hong Kong and the mainland in the social and economic realms.

"Former chief justice Li - anything that he says, I would recommend paying great attention to. I am sure he is wise," said Woolf, who served alongside Li in Hong Kong's top court.

And he agreed with Wong on relations with the mainland.

"The mainland is achieving so much in so many ways, but it hasn't yet been able to develop as advanced a legal system as possessed in Hong Kong," Woolf said, adding that rule of law benefited the mainland too, as mainland companies channelled their activities through the city.

Patten's arrival at the museum on the Central waterfront was greeted by dozens of Hongkongers waving British and colonial flags, in an internet-organised event. Both flags have become symbols of protest in recent years amid concerns about interference by Beijing.

The former Conservative lawmaker, who served as governor from 1992 to the 1997 handover, also hit out at accusations of bias in University of Hong Kong polls.

"I think that whatever or not the political science department of a university undertakes, polling is an aspect of the freedom of universities … to research and study seriously. This is important for freedom of speech. I hope that HKU will continue to exercise their autonomy," Patten said.

 

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This article is now closed to comments

L.L.
Good talk, like it, they are right, READ this GOOD, WHAT HE MEANS HK! ((rechtsstaat als een 'kostbare schat'.)) ((zorgen over afnemende vrijheid van meningsuiting en persvrijheid.)) (("Liberale samenleving van Hongkong en vrije pers, autonome universiteiten en de rechtsstaat zijn alle fundamenten van een vrije samenleving.")) ((fundamenten van een vrije samenleving.)) (("Het vasteland is zoveel bereiken in veel opzichten,"""maar het is nog niet in staat zich te ontwikkelen als geavanceerde een rechtssysteem als bezeten in Hong Kong geweest,"""zei Woolf)) ... CN is not yet to be like HK!!! Because HK has some of British-Law, demoncratie, not communism... that is a lot of big different! But, if some bad people to make a abuse of the law, we cannot prevent, avert... that is also freedom of using abuse! Good people don't doing this... but the Law must being freedom... not ""PREJUDICE""... not one human-law or one law-state... but all of the humans law (7 million HK/1.3miljard CN/all of the world?)... U see there are a very BIG BIG different! hihihi... Mentaliteit are not yet by CN... even HK-people must learn too of a lot of ""FREEDOM""/""SOCIAL""...What is the Western mentaliteit!? Honest, freedom of speech, freedom of mind, freedom of religion, freedom of life... not prejudice... No harm... I hope HK-government will using the law of British and make him in permanent, not only for 50 year... CN must follow u like HK-Brit Law for the next of 21-22 century! Freedom of Speech...
ldAsia
Please write clearly, not these jumbo, mumbo,trash, that nobody understand. Are you talking to yourself!!!
ldAsia
In 32 countries (including China) illegal importing, exporting, sale, or possession of drugs constitute capital offences that may result in the death penalty.
In September 2007, a British named Akmal Shaikh, was found with 4kg of heroin in Urumqi, north-west China, and was sentenced to death. Mr Shaikh's family claimed that he had been delusional and duped into a carrying a suitcase that did not belong to him. BBC News claimed this guy to be mentally ill. And, the British government condemned China's execution of a British national.
Logics: A guy has no problem in buying an air-ticket and knowing all in flying from Heathrow airport, England all the way to a remote city Urumpi, in China. He knew that he could make lots of money!! Then, he was caught and claimed mentally ill – typical excuse in western countries (what a BIG LAUGHUG JOKE to people with brain cells). Worst, the media like BCC, CNN, and the so-called “human rights) groups, and etc, then lauded that “It is inhumane for China to execute mentally-ill person.” To the normal people, it is a BIG freaking joke.
This is the type of so-called “Western Law and Order” that these British guys trying to promote to the British lackeys in Hong Kong. These are people that claimed Hong Kong will be in economic disaster without the British management, once Hong Kong is back to China.
They should go back home and keep quiet, instead of exploiting “democracy” to stupefy the lackeys to stir up all sorts of social unrest.
lucifer
Why don't you do a little research and figure out how many citizens of the People's Republic of China are in prison in the United States for capital murder. I will give you a hint and tell you in advance its more than you can count with the fingers of both hands....jealous Mainland boyfriends have a penchant for murdering their ex girlfriends when let out of their cages in China.....I don't know why, but along with killing their professors, it seems to be an epidemic.
ldAsia
To lucifer, Let me spend a little bit of time to educate you a little bit.
U.S. prison population dwarfs that of other nations. The United States has less than 5 percent of the world's population. But it has almost a quarter of the world's prisoners.
The United States has, for instance, 2.3 million criminals behind bars, more than any other nation.
The United States comes in first, too, on a more meaningful list from the prison studies center, the one ranked in order of the incarceration rates. It has 751 people in prison or jail for every 100,000 in population. (If you count only adults, one in 100 Americans is locked up.)
To your question of “How many citizens of the People's Republic of China are in prison in the United States for capital murder.” It is very easy to answer. The number is so low that there is not even a pinch of interest for people to work on the statistic data about it. For the past 4 decades, the 2 most distinct examples: [1] In 1991, a distraught graduate student went on a shooting rampage in the University of Iowa, killing four people and critically wounding two others before fatally shooting himself in the head. [2] A former Virginia Tech grad student decapitated a classmate in 2009.
Based on the above figures, the number that you asked, is liked a drop in the ocean; simply NEGLIGIBLE or INSIGNIFICANT, period.
lucifer
Please stay on topic. If you want to trade statistics about China vs. Western countries and which country has what problems, I can provide you with plenty of information that will show you what nightmare China is. Why don't you google China execution and look at the photos of rows of Chinese girls in their mid 20's with their heads blown off from being executed.
ldAsia
The guy is history and a goner. He’s got nobody to listen to in England and finally got a few lackeys here to listen to him. If the lackeys are so rooted for him, why don’t they just apply for emigrating to England. These lackeys do not even realize that their existing standing and respects in this world is the result of hard-earned efforts by the New China. It is a freaking joke that this guy came from a country (selling opium as merchandize) to teach Chinese about “Law and Order”.
hm03
comment
aplucky1
this guy has nothing but jobs handed to him
now he had the BBC job handed to him and made an absolute disaster of the place
he is a waste of oxygen
lucifer
ummm...yes, and everybody in the Communist Party of China had their jobs handed to them. Wow, that's millions of people.

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