The top court is unlikely to allow further limitations on the freedom of expression after upholding the validity of laws which penalise flag desecration, the chairman of the Bar Association said. Ronny Tong Ka-wah SC said the landmark ruling displayed an attempt to deal with the issue in 'a reasonable and humane way'. 'I think it is a little bit of an exaggeration to suggest all freedoms of Hong Kong people are now under threat,' he said. Mr Tong said Mr Justice Kemal Bokhary, in particular, seemed to have set limits on restricting freedom of expression. 'I read his judgment to mean he certainly will not be prepared to go any further than this,' Mr Tong said. Clive Grossman SC, a member of the Bar Council, said: 'It is not the end of the world. You can still say what you like. You have still got freedom of expression, although one aspect of your ability to express yourself has been ruled illegal.' Professor Raymond Wacks from the University of Hong Kong said the court had been driven to its decision by the constitutional realities it faced. 'Those who care about freedom in Hong Kong will lament the last two decisions of the Court of Final Appeal. Observers abroad will doubtless perceive [yesterday's] judgment as another shot fired at the fledgling SAR. 'But quite simply, we are a creature of the PRC constitution, and though the judges, especially Mr Justice Bokhary, made a heroic effort to find in favour of liberty, that course, it seems to me, was doomed from the start.' His colleague, Professor Eric Cheung, said the court had limited the extent of its ruling. 'I think that from a legal perspective, it is a good judgment. I think the reasoning is fair and convincing.' But he said the perception might be that the court was put under political pressure. It was unfortunate the Government had 'kept a knife hanging over the head of the court' by refusing to rule out a reinterpretation by Beijing if it lost, Professor Cheung said. Law Yuk-kai, spokesman for the Hong Kong Human Rights Monitor, said the court appeared to have changed its attitude after the controversy over the National People's Congress Standing Committee's reinterpretation. 'We have a court which is quite predictable now and when matters come to court, if they are politically sensitive . . . we can foresee the result. The Government is going to win,' Mr Law said. 'It is the so-called rights of the state which take precedence over the rights of individuals. This is something seldom seen in a liberal, common-law court.'