Hong Kong Justice Secretary Rimsky Yuen sees no need to resign over Beijing interpretation

Yuen argued both judicial independence and interpretation of Basic Law could co-exist

PUBLISHED : Monday, 07 November, 2016, 11:25pm
UPDATED : Monday, 07 November, 2016, 11:56pm

Hong Kong’s Secretary for Justice does not see the need for him to resign over Beijing’s interpretation of the Basic Law which many view as an incursion against the city’s judicial independence as he argues resignation is “no more than a gesture”.

Rimsky Yuen Kwok-keung also attempted to water down the impact brought by Beijing’s intervention into the oath-taking saga by arguing the interpretation was “not case specific” but of a general nature that sets forth principles to aid the court to interpret the clause at the centre of the oath-taking controversy.

Ahead of the Beijing’s announcement to interpret Article 104 of the Basic Law in a bid to disqualify two pro-independence lawmakers, Sixtus Baggio Leung and Yau Wai-ching, Yuen last week publicly expressed his wish to have the saga settled at the local level.

When asked yesterday if he had ever considered resigning from his post to convince Beijing not to interpret the city’s mini-constitution, he gave a lengthy answer to dismiss the suggestion.

“I have in the past ... said I believed the dispute concerning the oath-taking can and should be resolved within the Hong Kong judicial system. I can tell you I am still of that view,” he said. “However, in cases of this nature, there are bound to be differences of opinion, and such differences can be legitimate differences.”

Yuen argued that both judicial independence and interpretation of Basic Law could co-exist, adding the ruling by Beijing was not targeting the localists but instead setting out the general example as an aid to understanding Article 104 – which covers oath-taking.

“Having considered all these factors, if one thinks it still meaningful to consider the question of resignation, I would ask why … because resignation is no more than a gesture and one has to consider what has been done in its proper context,” said Yuen.

Professor Johannes Chan Man-mun had earlier urged Yuen to resign as the city’s justice chief for his failure to defend the city’s judicial system by allowing Beijing to pre-empt the local court ruling on the oath-taking case.