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  • Dec 25, 2014
  • Updated: 5:10am
Beijing White Paper 2014
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POLITICS

Hong Kong justice secretary Rimsky Yuen struggles to defend Beijing’s white paper

Rimsky Yuen says 'requirements' laid out by central government comparable to existing judicial oath, amid accusations city's judicial independence is under threat

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 12 June, 2014, 4:41pm
UPDATED : Friday, 13 June, 2014, 9:06am
 

Hong Kong's justice secretary insisted yesterday that Beijing's white paper on "one country, two systems" did not interfere with the city's judicial independence.

Nor did it, said the secretary, Rimsky Yuen Kwok-keung, "add any extra requirements which are not found in the Basic Law".

But amid accusations from the legal profession that Beijing was putting pressure on city's judiciary, Yuen struggled to clarify whether judges should consider national security, strategic interests and the white paper itself when deciding cases.

The paper, released on Tuesday, emphasised Beijing's control over Hong Kong. It categorised judges as Hong Kong administrators just like the chief executive and top officials.

That was a mistake, according to the Bar Association's strongly worded response to the paper, released Wednesday.

The State Council-issued paper says administrators, including judges, have a "basic political requirement" to love the country.

Yuen said that was tantamount to the allegiance to Hong Kong that judges already swear as part of their judicial oath.

"I don't want to play around with words nor … be pedantic," Yuen said. But "when judges take their oath when assuming office, it is already a legal manifestation of the 'love the country, love Hong Kong' concept".

The white paper "doesn't add extra requirements which are not found in the Basic Law … nor does it change any article in the Basic Law," the secretary said.

Earlier yesterday, the Civic Party's legal-sector lawmaker, Dennis Kwok, urged Yuen to clarify whether the paper directed judges to consider China's national security and interests when deciding cases.

Kwok later endorsed the Bar's view in a statement jointly issued with 29 other representatives in the Election Committee's legal section.

Yuen did not address Kwok's question, instead focusing his answer on Hong Kong.

"Everyone would agree that when a judge is discharging his judicial function, one would suppose the judge to be acting in the interest of Hong Kong as a whole," the minister said. "Judicial independence means deciding cases free from interference from any individual or the executive branch."

But he sidestepped the question of whether the white paper should be a reference for judges when making judgments.

"When judges decide on cases, they make reference to the evidence, the law and other literature," he said.

Lawyers could choose whether to include the white paper in their submissions and judges could consider whether the submission was relevant.

On Wednesday, the Bar cited remarks it made in 2008 when it was chaired by Yuen himself: "The judiciary … is not, and should not be regarded as, part of the governance team."

Dismissing suggestions that he was contradicting himself, Yuen said he still stood by that view because the word "administrators" in Beijing's paper referred to members of the city's political structure while the "governance team" in his statement only meant the executive branch.

Speaking in Beijing, Basic Law Committee member Maria Tam Wai-chu endorsed Yuen's view: "Although the judiciary is part of the political structure … judicial officers shall exercise judicial power independently."

Chief Secretary Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor also weighed in to defend the white paper.

"There is absolutely no truth in saying that the white paper has undermined Hong Kong's autonomy," she said. "The white paper described … 'one country, two systems' clearly, comprehensively and accurately."

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This article is now closed to comments

sjfore
The problem that Mr. Yuen has with defending the white paper is that it is indefensible. Tough break, dude. You might think of looking for a different line of work.
ejmciii
Gotta give RimJob points for trying to put lipstick on the pig. In my opinion he has earned his bonus for making the morons, sorry the Mandarins, in Beijing seem a little less focused on crushing two systems in order to make one nation work. Well done. Boots well licked.
sipsip1238
Justice secretary clearly wasn't taught that if you have nothing intelligent to say, it is better to not speak at all instead of making a fool of yourself.
sipsip1238
If you watch Rimmy's speech, he has a rash that slowly develops across his neck as he speaks, wouldn't think he'd be nervous unless even he himself knew that it was bs.
Maybe he should wipe the brown from his nose and use it to cover his nervous rash.
ianson
"Everyone would agree that when a judge is discharging his judicial function, one would suppose the judge to be acting in the interest of Hong Kong as a whole" - only in ONE sense, Rimsky: that by completely disregarding State interests and strictly applying the law to the case before it, the court acts in the ultimate interest of Hong Kong as a fair, open and rational society. But, as I suspect, you meant to say that State interests come first, you are completely undermining the concept of the rule of law. It is absolutely imperative that the court does not pay any regard at all to the interests of the State somehow superpositioned over the merits of the case. That is, of course, precisely the way the courts function in the mainland under CCP domination. Wake up, Rimsky, you're betraying all your years of legal training and professional dignity in doing the Party's bidding.
Paradox314
"anti-China monkeys"? This name calling habit u guys have must be a hangover from the Red guard days, is it. Anyone disagreed with had to be insultingly labelled, 'running dogs' capitalist roader, rightist, etc. You are still implementing the same childish habit.
321manu
1 thing I've noticed about CCP boot-lickers, be they in government employ, or random dudes trolling internet boards like some specimens we have around here, is that they're extremely dedicated, tireless, and utterly devoted to the cause. It's a testament to the effectiveness of the CCP koolaid that its consumers can be consistently led by their noses like our well-trained canine friends.
Look at Rimsky and Carrie, 2 boot-lickers extraordinaire. Let me decipher their baloney for everyone here.
"The white paper "doesn't add extra requirements which are not found in the Basic Law … nor does it change any article in the Basic Law," --- no. It simply clarifies the underlying reality as far as BJ is concerned. If and when BJ deems it necessary, the judiciary will do as BJ wants and says. The sum total of "judiciary independence" HKers have perceived until now is only at the largesse of the CCP. When the CCP deems that such independence needs to be removed, it will be. To any non-bootlicker, it should be obvious that "independence" which exists only on the permission of another is not independence at all. But it's funny watching Rimsky dance around.
"There is absolutely no truth in saying that the white paper has undermined Hong Kong's autonomy" --- and Carrie is right, insofar as the fact that HK never had any autonomy to begin with. She is only as free as the CCP allows, which means HK is not free at all. But thanks, Carrie and Rimsky. You've licked them boots well.
ejychan@connect.hku.hk
50 cent cadre alert!
blue
"They are all opportunistic and will flee at the first sign of trouble."

P.iss off and stop trying to turn HK into an Asian Zimbabwe like someone else rightly mentioned. Thankfully small minded scum like you is of the minority.
blue
No it will become like Zimbabwe if you eliminate an independent judiciary, legal system, private property rights, and cancel the Basic Law. If the suggestions from barking dogs like you were taken seriously, then investor confidence in HK will be completely shattered.

Also I didn't mention white people; you did.

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