The Bar Association chairman yesterday called on the Government to take urgent steps to restore confidence in the Judiciary after the top court's controversial rulings on the right of abode and flag desecration. Ronny Tong Ka-wah SC fears the public has started to suspect that judges can be influenced by political pressure. 'I can certainly understand people starting to question the independence of the courts, particularly the Court of Final Appeal. 'This perception needs to be corrected. All this happened because of the way the Government has handled things in the past 11 months.' Mr Tong urged the Department of Justice not to use potential interpretations of the Basic Law by the National People's Congress Standing Committee as a 'trump card' when cases came to court. 'Confidence is a very fragile thing. Once it has been broken it takes a long time to get it back on its feet again,' he said. 'It is a huge task faced by the Government to try to rebuild confidence in our Judiciary.' The Court of Final Appeal ruled in favour of the Government on the right of abode on December 3 and again when upholding laws criminalising the desecration of the national and regional flags on Wednesday. Acting Solicitor-General Robert Allcock agreed there was a need to restore confidence: 'I think it is clear . . . that some people are concerned the Judiciary has suffered in a way in the past few months. 'There may well be a perception that the independence of the Judiciary has taken a bit of a hammering. 'We are as concerned about that as Ronny Tong is. 'It is the last thing we want and we will do what we can to change the perception.' Mr Allcock did not agree with suggestions the Government could have prevented a 'knife hanging over the head of the court' by declaring, before the flag ruling, that it would not take the case to Beijing. He said people might then expect the Government to give such an assurance every time there was a Basic Law case before the Court of Final Appeal. 'If you then don't give such an assurance people will say the knife is back out again. I don't think that is the best way to proceed,' he said.