The top court's autonomy is not in peril, she says Secretary for Justice Elsie Leung Oi-sie has denied the government had interfered with the judicial system by asking Hong Kong's top court to shorten the appeal period for the elderly woman who challenged the privatisation of the Housing Authority's assets. In an article published in the Chinese-language press, Miss Leung also said society should discuss whether courts should have the right to shorten appeal periods. The scheme to publicly list the authority's assets such as markets and car parks in the Link Reit was derailed last week after the Court of Final Appeal threw out a government application to have the appeal period for public estate tenant Lo Siu-lan shortened. Ms Lo is considering an appeal against a lower court ruling against her bid to halt the listing of the scheme. The Court of Final Appeal said it had no power to shorten the window period for appeal. After it upheld Ms Lo's right to take 28 days to consider whether to appeal to the top court, the government shelved the listing to avoid further legal problems. In the article, Miss Leung rejected criticism that the government had sought to interfere with the judicial system through the much-criticised move to apply for a shortening of Ms Lo's appeal period, saying the move was conducted by the Housing Authority which 'was not a government department'. 'The government has all along respected the independence and autonomy of the Housing Authority, and had not participated in the legal proceedings in any form. The remarks and process taken by lawyers representing the authority cannot be viewed as representing the government.' Citing foreign cases, Miss Leung said it was not a big deal for people to ask courts to shorten appeal periods to protect the public interest. 'The public should not view the demands by the authority's lawyers from a negative angle,' she said. 'To avoid affecting the listing, the authority made an atypical application for an atypical situation.' She said the government would listen to views on whether the courts should be given power to shorten appeal periods, as there was a need to 'ensure nobody could inappropriately delay proceedings which needed to be dealt with speedily'. Meanwhile, Kenneth Mak Ching-yu, deputy director of housing, told the Bloomberg news agency the chances of the Link Reit being listed next month was less than 50 per cent since it might still face legal challenges.