Secretary for Justice-designate Elsie Leung Oi-sie yesterday pledged to be 'impartial and fearless' in deciding on criminal prosecutions after June 30. Her power to do so, free from interference, would be crucial to the Common Law which Ms Leung vowed to defend alongside the Basic Law. She laid out her key tasks in a speech to a meeting of Guangdong National People's Congress deputies, attended by President Jiang Zemin. Ms Leung said her responsibility would be to try her utmost to ensure the SAR 'rules Hong Kong according to law' - the same phrase she used for the title of her speech. 'In carrying out the responsibilities, the secretary for justice should . . . ensure the preservation and development of the essence of the Common Law system, in particular the spirit that everybody is equal before the law. 'And when executing independent legislative and judicial powers, [she should] stick to the spirit of the Basic Law to ensure the enforcement of two systems under the premise of one country,' she said. Citing Article 63 of the Basic Law, Ms Leung said the SAR's Department of Justice would control criminal prosecutions, free from interference. She said such powers included the decisions to launch or terminate prosecutions, exempt witnesses from responsibility, and conduct prosecutions in the public interest. Her rulings could affect future cases under the Common Law system, she said. 'Thus it is important that the secretary would act according to her conscience, be impartial and fearless in executing tasks that could not be interfered with.' Ms Leung also outlined the differences between the mainland and local concepts of law and concluded: 'If Hong Kong's legal system is to be converted completely to fit into that of China's, this will create huge economic and political shocks.' Preserving the legal system would ensure the continuity of institutions and policies, and would not deter overseas investors. Ms Leung rejected suggestions that there was any conflict between her role as a future SAR official and a deputy of the NPC, which has the task of monitoring the central Government. Asked whether she would quit the NPC, she said: 'I have to consider everything with great caution. 'I cannot resign simply because there is public pressure for me to do so.'