• Tue
  • Dec 23, 2014
  • Updated: 3:27am
Beijing White Paper 2014
NewsHong Kong

Barristers too sensitive on white paper, says Beijing official

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 14 June, 2014, 4:15am
UPDATED : Saturday, 14 June, 2014, 4:15am

The Hong Kong Bar Association was "over sensitive" and had "read too much into" Beijing's white paper on the role of the judiciary in the city, a mainland official said yesterday.

Xu Ze, deputy director of the State Council's Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office, was quoted as making the comments about the association's reaction to the paper, which was released on Tuesday and categorised judges as administrators.

Barrister Lawrence Ma Yan-kwok, a member of the Beijing-friendly Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong, quoted Xu as making the comments in a meeting with Hong Kong lawyers in the capital yesterday.

But legal sector lawmaker Dennis Kwok, of the Civic Party, said it was impossible to be "too sensitive" on such an issue. Kwok, a barrister, called on Xu to explain if he believed that the Bar Association had misunderstood anything.

The paper said judges were administrators, like the chief executive and top officials, who had a "basic political requirement" to love the country. The Bar Association said this was "erroneous" and sent the wrong message to Hongkongers and the international community.

Ma said Xu told the lawyers: "The 'love the country, love Hong Kong' concept isn't really a passionate one. To put it simply, when government officials, lawmakers and judges assume office, they have to take an oath to uphold the Basic Law and swear allegiance to the Hong Kong SAR government."

Xu added: "Since Hong Kong is an inseparable part of China, if judges strictly follow the Basic Law, they [will be seen as] loving the country."

On whether judges should be regarded as administrators, Ma said the lawyers believed that as the judiciary came under the political structure section of the Basic Law, it was accurate to see them in this light. Xu had agreed.

Stating that "you can never be too sensitive about judicial independence", Kwok quoted Mr Justice Kemal Bokhary, who said: "Constant vigilance on these matters is always necessary."

Kwok was referring to Bokhary's response to a question on the white paper from Cable TV.

The non-permanent judge of the Court of Final Appeal also said: "Judicial independence is a vital part of the rule of law, and public confidence in judicial independence is essential to the Hong Kong legal system."

As Xu weighed into the debate, his boss, Wang Guangya , was meeting pro-establishment lawmakers in Shenzhen.

Liberal Party leader James Tien Pei-chun said he met Wang yesterday with four core members of his party to discuss political reform and tourism - including the flood of mainland visitors that has irked Hongkongers.

"[Wang] agreed that we should not cut the number of visitors from northern [China], who spend a lot," Tien said.

He felt the top official was implying that Shenzhen permanent residents could be banned from making more than one return trip a day across the border.

Tien said Wang also told him that Beijing would make a decision on Hong Kong's political reform in August.

On that topic, a source close to Tung Chee-hwa said yesterday the former chief executive had always supported universal suffrage in accordance with the Basic Law.

On Wednesday, a source close to Tung denied a report that he had told Beijing universal suffrage would be bad for the city.



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This article is now closed to comments

Dai Muff
"The Hong Kong Bar Association was "over sensitive" and had "read too much into" Beijing's white paper"
Then it was badly written and ill considered..
When you issue a 'White Paper' you expect it to be read and people to have comments. Otherwise, why issue it? Don't tell me Beijing didn't expect an uproar.
Public confidence in One Country Two Systems is too important for the Bar Association to persist like overeager prosecutors in making emotive jury points against the State Council White Paper, rather than reading what it carefully and comprehensively says. The paper accurately reflects the Hong Kong judicial oath by which judges swear to “uphold the Basic Law … bear allegiance to the [HKSAR of the PRC, serve the HKSAR] conscientiously, dutifully, in full accordance with the law, honestly and with integrity, safeguard the law and administer justice without fear or favour, self-interest or deceit.” It is no contradiction of the judicial oath that the paper refers to “ensuring loyalty to the country by the mainstay of Hong Kong administrators” – not judges – “and helping them to be subject to oversight by the central government and Hong Kong society”. Even so, the paper, reflecting the Basic Law, also plainly uses “administrators” as a generic reference to “government”, the three branches of which include the executive, legislature and judiciary. The judiciary is the apolitical branch. Judicial independence under the rule of law requires judges to be independent not only from outside influences but also internally by keeping their personal and political views out of their decision making. It is necessary to be vigilant about judicial independence, but it is oversensitive to cry it is threatened with no demonstrable factual basis.
Michael Scott
Firstly, the 'White Paper' is a very clumsy way for China to say that it is NOT under a Federal System. Secondly, it vividly shows that China really does not understand the concept of 'Rule of Laws'. As I've said before, the former is a common practice in many democratic countries and is really not a 'big' deal. The latter, however, is more serious. China, itself, is currently trying and preaching the concept of the 'rule of laws' to its own people, yet, if it does not understand the meaning of the 'rule of laws' itself, how can it convince its people !? Factual evidence is the only allowable variable under the concept of 'rule of laws', which China does not seem to understand nor comprehend. Sad !! Granted abuses do happen all the time, but they are not ingrained in the concept of 'rule of laws'. In the event, I say that our barristers are correct with their concerns.
It is hard not to wonder whether the masters do not grasp what people in a free society see as important or if they really do not care as their aim is to crush the free society in favor of being absorbed into their society. My guess is that the greater aim is to enforce the Mainland's view of things. Wake up HK, the dragon is at the door and it wants to end what makes you different.....
This is like asking after someone's mother and then getting surprised when that person gets **** off and punches you...
These CP apparatchiks do not understand the concept of the Rule of Law - same as Mainland legal experts telling us how to view democracy through the prism of the party's understanding!


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