• Fri
  • Dec 19, 2014
  • Updated: 11:38am
Beijing White Paper 2014
NewsHong Kong
POLITICS

Law Society defends white paper on Hong Kong after harsh words from Bar Association

PUBLISHED : Monday, 16 June, 2014, 5:25pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 17 June, 2014, 8:20am
 

The Law Society endorsed Beijing's contentious white paper on Hong Kong yesterday as a "positive" document that reiterated the special administrative region's judicial independence and high degree of autonomy.

The verdict of the society, which represents more than 7,400 solicitors, was in sharp contrast to the Bar Association's strongly worded response to the paper last Wednesday.

The association argued Beijing was mistaken in its view that judges were "administrators" like the chief executive and top officials who had a "basic political requirement" to love the country, and criticised the contention that judges should consider national security and China's interests.

The white paper, released by the State Council last week, emphasised Beijing's "comprehensive jurisdiction" over Hong Kong, and said its autonomy was subject to Beijing's authority.

Law Society president Ambrose Lam San-keung said he believed the Bar Association's criticism of the white paper arose from differing definitions of "administration".

"Broadly speaking, [the administration] includes the executive and legislative branches, as well as the judiciary," Lam said.

"If you look at the US and British administrations, it is very clear that [they follow that broad definition]," Lam said.

He believes that the Bar Association could have interpreted "administrators" narrowly to include only the executive branch.

But legal-sector lawmaker Dennis Kwok of the Civic Party said Lam was playing with words. "Lam wasn't founding his [argument] on the idea of separation of powers, but saying that the powers … have to cooperate and understand the Basic Law correctly," Kwok said.

Lam said the city's judicial independence would not be damaged by the white paper, but sidestepped the question of whether judges must consider the national interest in their rulings.

"Hong Kong is very special, and 'one country, two systems' is unprecedented, so the local and central governments have to grope for answers on many questions, and I don't have one for you," Lam told reporters.

He also accepted that swearing allegiance to Hong Kong, something already required of judges, might not satisfy Beijing's standard for patriotism. "Swearing allegiance is not some simple lip service," he said.

The Chinese Importers' and Exporters' Association and the Federation of Hong Kong Industries said yesterday businesses were not worried that the white paper would harm operations.

 

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This article is now closed to comments

Dao-Phooy
Would you take legal advice from this moronic President of the Law Society? His knowledge of constitutional law can be found on a pinhead. Such an embarrassment to have him re-elected unopposed as the President after his appalling display during last month's press conference on the Law Society's submissions on constitutional reform. Wake up solicitors - this man is making the Law Society a mouthpiece for the Government and the Mainland Authorities and tramping its long held position of political neutrality.
Ant Lee
Ambrose Lam....twisted logic to please Beijing
sipsip1238
So...I don't know how this works, but is the law society the bunch that aren't good enough to become barristers?
So kind of like the guys who work at rating agencies because they're not good enough to be traders/PMs
ianson
Get clear on Ambrose Lam. He is senior partner of firm Chu & Lau who maintain an office in Dong Cheng, Beijing, and employ at least one mainland lawyer (Huang Zhenhua) in its Hong Kong office. That a large proportion of his business comes from mainlanders is plain just looking at the parties his firm has been representing in court (see Judiciary website judgments). It is self-evident that he is avidly stuffing his pockets with RMB. He's bound to be biased in favour of the Party. Put it this way, if he were a judge deciding on the interpretation of the Basic Law, he'd have to recuse himself (remove himself from the case) on the basis of self-interest.
robinsnell
Ambrose argues that 'patriotism' is demonstrated or violated through actual practice. But surely, a person's practices can change: 'patriotic' today, 'treacherous' tomorrow, and vice versa. On top of this, of course, 'patriotism' is a subjective concept. Someone may feel patriotic but be regarded by some others as not patriotic, while someone else may feel non-patriotic, but may be regarded by some others as patriotic. It is impossible to establish objective criteria for patriotism.
Paradox314
Pslhk: Your vain efforts to appear learned fail terribly - in this case your accusations are sometimes ridiculous i.e. 'judicial anarchy' - you may study law - but you understand it - you appear to stand outside merely looking for anything that can be twisted into the appearance of fault. And "vain fools brainwashed to become unconscious" is obviously a projection of your own sociopolitical background. We all know who the brainwashed of Asia are!!
sammckhk
Must be a lot of **** lickers in the law society now..... They're all looking forward to their quango government appointments. Which one have you asked for Ambrose ? Obviously a very lucrative one .....
Dai Muff
Another clownish comment from the Western office.
hodfords
Worrying that the Law Society would view the document as positive; it must be overrun by the communist sympathiser.... This cancer is eating up our society....
321manu
If two groups of lawyers can come to diametrically opposed conclusions from 1 document, it seems at the very least that the document lacked precision at least wrt the status of judicial independence. Now, ambiguity may have been what the state council was trying to channel. But that doesn't serve the issue well when the question comes to judicial independence.
Can HK judges rule according to HK law, or do they have to issue rulings dictated to them by the NPC, the HK CE, or whichever group of stooges the CCP desires?

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