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Basic Law

Hong Kong’s top legal body ‘deeply concerned’ over mainland intervention in oath-taking saga

Bar Association says it would ‘seriously undermine the confidence of the Hong Kong people’ if Beijing steps in

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 02 November, 2016, 3:12pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 30 November, 2016, 11:00am

The Hong Kong Bar Association has said it is “deeply concerned” about reports that the mainland’s top legislative body may intervene in the row over two localist lawmakers’ oaths with an interpretation of Hong Kong’s mini-constitution.

In a statement issued on Wednesday, the legal professional body said it would “deal a severe blow to the independence of the judiciary and the power of final adjudication of the Hong Kong court”, if the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress insisted on interpreting the Basic Law at this stage.

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The comment came after the Post reported on Wednesday that the committee will meet on Thursday to discuss an interpretation of the mini-constitution, and that the move signalled Beijing’s anger with some Hongkongers pushing an independence agenda.

“It will also seriously undermine the confidence of the Hong Kong people and the international community in the high degree of autonomy of [Hong Kong],” the association said of the potential impact of the interpretation.

The irreparable harm it would do to Hong Kong far outweighed any purpose it could possibly achieve, it warned.

The Bar Association noted that the court had already granted permission for the Secretary of Justice to seek a judicial review over the legality of the oath taking by Youngspiration lawmakers Sixtus Baggio Leung Chung-hang and Yau Wai-ching.

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During their swearing-in last month, the duo pronounced China as Chee-na, mimicking the offensive “Shina” used by the Japanese call the Chinese during wartime, and held up a banner declaring “Hong Kong is not China”.

“We take the view that the Hong Kong judiciary is well capable of arriving at a fair adjudication on the issues,” the professional body said.

It asked the committee to exercise the highest degree of restraint in handling this “highly sensitive incident” as it would have critical implications on “one country, two systems”.