Legal sector plans march to protest against Beijing’s ‘worrying’ white paper
Silent protest planned as show of support for independent judiciary and rule of law
Legal professionals will march next week, for only the third time in Hong Kong's history, in opposition to Beijing's white paper outlining its "comprehensive jurisdiction" over the city.
This emerged yesterday as a member of the Law Society proposed a vote of no confidence in society president Ambrose Lam San-keung after he praised the document.
Beijing stated in the paper that judges were administrators and as such had a "basic political requirement" to love the country. It also suggested that judges had a responsibility of "correctly understanding and implementing the Basic Law".
Civic Party lawmaker Dennis Kwok said the legal sector, which he represents, was worried about the paper because it was "against the principles of rule of law".
The party's leader, Audrey Eu Yuet-mee, said the silent march would demonstrate support for an independent judiciary as the foundation for the "one country, two systems" principle. Senior pan-democrat Martin Lee Chu-ming SC said it was critical to maintain the impartiality of the judiciary.
"I am sure every member of the legal sector - who is not being brainwashed - will join the silent protest," he said.
Solicitor Kevin Yam, a member of the Law Society's Constitutional Affairs and Human Rights Committee, said he planned to file at least 75 signatures collected from solicitors to call for a special meeting on the document.
He proposed a vote of no confidence in Lam and a statement to defend the rule of law and judicial independence.
He said he would also table a motion urging Lam to retract his comment that the paper was a "positive document" that reiterated the special administrative region's judicial independence and high degree of autonomy.
Kwok called on participants to dress in black for the march, which will travel from the High Court to the Court of Final Appeal.
There have been two similar protests by members of the legal sector before, both prompted by reinterpretations of the Basic Law. Lawyers marched in 1999, when the government asked the National People's Congress to reinterpret the Basic Law on the issue of right of abode in Hong Kong.
The other protest came in 2005, over the term length of the new chief executive after the resignation of Tung Chee-hwa.