Legal post 'no stepping stone'

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 25 October, 2000, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 25 October, 2000, 12:00am

Robert Allcock was confirmed as Solicitor-General yesterday, and immediately denied his appointment was a stepping stone to becoming Secretary for Justice.

Mr Allcock, who cannot take the top job as he is not Chinese, has been acting Solicitor-General for more than a year and his full appointment came into effect from August 17. The post had been vacant since Daniel Fung Wah-kin quit two years ago.

Mr Allcock said yesterday it was not necessary to be Solicitor-General before becoming Secretary for Justice. 'It is a misconception and it is not a stepping stone. There are other ways people can reach the top post besides being Solicitor-General first.'

He said he did not think the lukewarm response to the recruitment drive was due to the difficulties in enforcing the Basic Law and maintaining a common law system at the same time.

'I don't see any conflict,' he said, noting that lawyers might not have applied for the job as private sector income was higher.

But Mr Allcock said he did not regard his promotion as a setback to localisation plans. He added: 'Most of the work of the department is basically carried out in English. In practice, it is not a problem for me not to be able to use Chinese. I've found no difficulties with this in the past year acting in the post. When I visited the mainland, I found no problems [using] an interpreter.'

Secretary for Justice Elsie Leung Oi-sie added: 'Mr Allcock is a distinguished lawyer with wide professional experience and outstanding leadership. He commands high respect both within the Department of Justice and in the legal profession. I am sure he will rise to the challenge of the new appointment.'

Mr Allcock marked his appointment by stressing the Public Order Ordinance governing rallies and assemblies did not need replacing. 'It is a matter for the Security Bureau. It has publicly stated it does not feel that a review is needed,' he said.

He added that legal advice given by the Department of Justice found the notification system for protests did not breach the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.