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  • Sep 22, 2014
  • Updated: 8:01am
Beijing White Paper 2014
NewsHong Kong

Hong Kong lawyers march to defend judiciary in wake of Beijing's white paper

PUBLISHED : Friday, 27 June, 2014, 6:38pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 28 June, 2014, 4:18am

A record number of lawyers took to the streets yesterday to protest against Beijing's white paper that they say jeopardises judicial independence, a value that sets Hong Kong apart from the rest of the country.

One of the city's highest-level judges offered support for the 1,800 participants, who wore black and marched in silence in the profession's third public display of support for the judiciary since the handover in 1997.

Watch: Hong Kong lawyers march to defend judiciary in wake of Beijing’s white paper

Court of Final Appeal non-permanent judge Kemal Bokhary did not march but said he supported the cause.

"I know what their values are and I support that," said Bokhary, widely thought of as a liberal judge.

The march was held in protest against the white paper issued by the State Council on June 10 that called judges "administrators" and said they should be patriotic.

Asked if he agreed that judges were administrators, Bokhary said: "Well, we are judges."

Martin Lee Chu-ming, Hong Kong's most experienced senior counsel on the barristers' list and founding chairman of the Democratic Party, said: "Lawyers are giving support to an independent judiciary which cannot speak for itself. Without it, human rights cannot be defended."

Professor Johannes Chan Man-mun, outgoing law dean at the University of Hong Kong who also joined similar but smaller marches in 1999 and 2005, said: "Fifteen years on, the legal profession still needs to take to the streets. This is a problem."

The previous marches followed Basic Law interpretations by Beijing.

Dennis Kwok, the lawyer-lawmaker who organised the march, said the record turnout sends a clear message to the central government and global community.

Nine chairmen of the Bar Association, mainland civil-rights lawyer Teng Biao , and a handful of government lawyers joined the march.

Teng said he saw the white paper as in line with Beijing's increasingly suppressive attitude towards opposition at home.

"What's happening here is connected to suppression of the mainland's civic society, underground churches and human rights lawyers," said Teng, who teaches at Chinese University.

Solicitors also braved the heat and joined the march, from the High Court to the Court of Final Appeal, in apparent defiance of Law Society president Ambrose Lam San-keung, who earlier spoke in favour of the paper.

"I was shocked when I saw the white paper - I asked why the line was different from our understanding of the rule of law in the past," said Priscilla Choy, one of 200-plus lawyers planning a no-confidence vote against Lam.

A spokesman for the Department of Justice dismissed the marchers' fears.

"As a matter of fact, the white paper made repeated references to [Hong Kong's] independent judicial power," he said.


Quotes from leading lawyers participating in the silent march

"If judges have to be standing with the government and form part of the government [as the white paper suggests], this would be totally contrary to the rule of law" - Audrey Eu Yuet-mee, a former president of the Bar Association

"We want to send a very clear message to the Central People’s Government: Don’t interfere, don’t damage the rule of law; it is too important for Hong Kong"
- Dennis Kwok Wing-hang, legislator for the legal sector

"Lawyers are marching because we see the white paper as an attempt to rewrite the Basic Law by giving our judges political missions - which are not acceptable at all" - Alan Leong Kah-kit, senior counsel and Civic Party chairman

"I came out because no person can keep himself untroubled during chaotic times" - Lawrence Lok, senior counsel


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This article is now closed to comments

The DAB's ignorant rent a mob are sublimely ignorant of the fact the lawyers were marching to protect everyone's civil liberties, including those of the mainland boot lickers. An independent judiciary is the last bulwark against arbitrary abuse of power and corruption which have become hallmarks of post-handover governance. If it the legal system ever falls into the hands of these latter day N a z i Brownshirts no-one who has displeased them will be safe from being dragged out of their beds in the middle of the night and disappearing.
Of course lawyers support the "Rule of Law", it enables them to represent bad people for money.
...and the Poet Monkey Judge cannot speak with relevance. Was there a point there, or just more irrelevance?
Relevance? What was that all about? How does the British parliamentary system have anything to do with the topic of this OP?
Yet another poem without much of a point, or much of a purpose.
The matrix misloaded
in the open under the sun
where the clones not sheltered in gown and scalp
look like a puddle of beached jelly fish
Die they must because they’re stupid
What’s written is subject to interpretations
constitutions, statutes, cases and white paper
We have two groups of lawyers
each with a different opinion about the white paper
Even within each group, there must be further disagreements
Jelly fish beached themselves because of their obduracy
that their white paper interpretation is the only correct interpretation
Jelly fish are biased and their understanding of English law is skin deep
they never query
therefore their “understanding” is not based on reconciliation of discrepancies
why Britain, which has no written constitution,
calls itself a “constitutional” monarchy
why Britain where no bill may become law without the monarch’s signature
calls itself a democracy under the rule of law
why they see separation of powers in Britain
where all decision-making is centralized in the parliament
Jelly fish die in a hurry
as they unnecessarily expedite exaggerated hypothetical difficulties
instead of carrying on their daily businesses honestly
they create unwinnable conflicts and demand immediate resolution
Money can do everything.
Looks like the survival instincts of these international lawyers have ticked. They care more for their own pay cheques than for the law itself. Some of them look well fed.
the masses don't care, when will the blood suckers legalise contingency lawyers instead of the over-rated over-paid lawyers for the rich only we have today?
Good for them. I walked 4 blocks in a suit yesterday and was sweating like a pig. It is good to see that people who understand the implications of this White Paper and the Policy it enunciates is not in our best interests and if we remain silent we can rest assured the masters in Beijing will continue their relentless push to make HK another Chinese city and not the international center it has been. The only right we will have is the right to obey the masters and follow their directions like the slaves to the north.




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