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Basic Law

Convenor of Hong Kong’s Executive Council hopes to ‘limit impact’ of Beijing Basic Law interpretation

But Lam Woon-kwong doesn’t say what the potential impacts might be

PUBLISHED : Monday, 21 November, 2016, 12:52am
UPDATED : Monday, 21 November, 2016, 12:53am

A top government adviser in Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying’s cabinet said he hoped “to minimise the impacts and side effects” of Beijing’s intervention in Hong Kong’s oath-taking controversy.

Executive Council convenor Lam Woon-kwong, who spent decades in the civil service until 2005, was one of the first pro-establishment politicians in Hong Kong to warn about the fallout of the national legislature’s ruling on November 7, which stated that lawmakers who refused to pledge allegiance to Hong Kong as part of China would lose their seats, effectively disqualifying legislators Baggio Leung Chung-hang and Yau Wai-ching for that reason.

Lawyer who helped draft Basic Law says Beijing interpretation has destroyed ‘one country, two systems’

Yesterday Lam said: “The less often interpretations take place, the better ... But since it already happened, we can only hope to minimise its impacts and side effects when we follow up on it.”

Those were Lam’s first comments on the row. He declined to say what the possible side effects were, but his remarks came amid a series of judicial reviews, filed by both pro-democracy and pro-establishment activists, on lawmakers’ oaths.

Leung did not say whether the government would seek to disqualify more democratic lawmakers, only saying that it would “follow up” on the court’s ruling.

Lam also said people should stop “wasting time discussing Hong Kong independence” as it would do the city no good.

“Issues such as ‘Hong Kong independence’ are illusory,” he said. “I think the majority of Hong Kong people would agree that we should ... focus on tackling our real challenges, difficulties, as well as internal conflicts.”

How Hong Kong’s courts interpret Beijing’s interpretation of the Basic Law may yet surprise

But former justice secretary Elsie Leung Oi-sie, vice-chair of the National People’s Congress’ Basic Law Committee, dismissed the idea of “side effects”.

“I disagree that the interpretation has any side effect, but for residents who don’t understand the interpretation, we should explain more,” she said.

She said the interpretation had been necessary to avoid the High Court erring on whether to disqualify Baggio Leung and Yau.