TUNG CHEE-HWA and his administration should accord proper respect to the Court of Final Appeal's controversial right of abode judgment, the chairwoman of a legal watchdog said yesterday. Gladys Li Chi-hei, SC, speaking on behalf of the council of JUSTICE (International Commission of Jurists), implored Mr Tung not to seek to undermine the authority of the judgment. Instead, the Chief Executive and his Government should recognise the judgment has sent an important message to the international community that the rule of law and judicial independence continue in Hong Kong. Ms Li, the daughter of retired Appeal Court Judge Simon Li Fook-sean, deplores the attacks upon the court's judgment and the personal attacks on Chief Justice Andrew Li Kwok-nang. Her father was also a vice-chairman of the now-defunct Beijing-appointed Preparatory Committee. 'These attacks amount to attacks upon judicial independence, and those who continue these attacks, whether directly or indirectly, risk undermining one of the cornerstones of the SAR's autonomy under the Basic Law,' she said. Ms Li accepts that the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress has the authority to give an interpretation of any provision of the Basic Law after consulting the Committee for the Basic Law. But she says the consequences and implications of issuing an interpretation that seeks to overturn the Court of Final Appeal judgment should be carefully weighed. 'The damage already done by the attacks upon the judgment of the Court of Final Appeal, which by convention is unable to defend itself against these attacks, however unfair or misguided, may become irreparable if every exercise of judicial independence not to the liking of the Government or the central authorities is met with reversal,' she said. 'It is incumbent on all of us within the legal community to explain clearly the meaning and importance of judicial independence, particularly to those to whom the concept is alien.' Ms Li appealed to those who did not understand the concept to act with self-restraint in attacking judicial independence as they risked causing irreversible harm to Hong Kong and the viability of 'one country, two systems'. Under Article 19 of the Basic Law, Hong Kong is vested with independent judicial power, including that of final adjudication. The Court of Final Appeal has the authority to interpret the Basic Law under Article 158 subject to the exceptions recognised in the judgment itself, Ms Li said.