• Mon
  • Dec 22, 2014
  • Updated: 6:31pm
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


Related topics

For unlimited access to:

SCMP.com SCMP Tablet Edition SCMP Mobile Edition 10-year news archive



This article is now closed to comments

20 Beijing a*** lickers following Junius. I wonder what appointment he's expecting to get or hope to get ? Or maybe it's just to try to keep his personal interest in the small house policy from any chance of being abolished. He's got some motive and it's not for the good of Hong Kong.
Well done Hong Kong lawyers!
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.
Thanks for sharing your wisdom with us.
Two of the worst Law Society President: Junius Ho and Ambrose Lam! Makes any decent minded solicitor want to cringe that such nonentities could be 'elected' by the Law Society Council. Its time for the Law Society to change the way it is run so that all solicitors can vote, not just 20 Council members.
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.
Stop making an excuse with this elaborate moral story. You were just a sweaty pig wanting to protect your salary.
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.
OMG EVERY SINGLE DAY, there's this fking protesting shitt and stuff against PRC in Hong Kong! Plzz just be independent! This is too annoying! Everyone will be happy both Chinese and Hong Kong ppl.



SCMP.com Account