Wong Yan-lung will avoid seeking Beijing's reading on mini-constitution Hong Kong's new secretary for justice, Wong Yan-lung, yesterday pledged to uphold the rule of law and avoid seeking any more interpretations of the Basic Law by Beijing. The 41-year-old senior barrister also said he would not blindly adopt the views of mainland legal experts, saying it was important to ensure Hong Kong's point of view was understood, and vice versa, to 'build mutual trust' with the mainland. The State Council yesterday announced its ratification of Elsie Leung Oi-sie's resignation as justice minister, which she presented to Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen on October 7, ending weeks of speculation. As expected, Beijing appointed Mr Wong to the post, based on Mr Tsang's nomination. The news received positive responses across the political spectrum, with democrats agreeing that Mr Wong's appointment was a sign the Beijing leadership was being open-minded. 'As secretary for justice, I will be true to my conscience,' Mr Wong said. 'I see very clearly my role as secretary for justice in terms of upholding the rule of law ... Carrying out criminal prosecutions without being subject to interference and defending human rights are the missions of the secretary for justice.' At a meet the media session, Mr Wong was asked repeatedly about his participation in lawyers' marches in 1999 and early this year protesting against the government's decision to seek a interpretation of the Basic Law from the National People's Congress Standing Committee on right of abode and the term of the chief executive. 'When I took part in the rally, it was as a legal professional concerned with the reinterpretation of the Basic Law's impact on our legal system,' he said. 'There is nothing wrong with expressing one's views that in the future there should be no more need [for the NPC] to interpret the Basic Law - none of us would like to see another Basic Law interpretation. I will try my best to avoid the need for us to seek another interpretation within my term. If there is one, I will do my best to minimise its effect on the rule of law.' Asked if he was a democrat, he said there were different interpretations of the term 'democrat' but that 'we all aspire to democracy'. 'As far as universal suffrage is concerned, I'm sure we all agree it remains our objective and we all aspire to democracy. As for the pace, there are divergent views on that, even among my lawyer friends.' Mr Tsang said he had been impressed with Mr Wong's insight and commitment to Hong Kong when he met the Election Committee member in June. Even though Mr Wong had not nominated him, Mr Tsang said the two shared a similar philosophy and Mr Wong was the only candidate he had approached. 'I'm sure Mr Wong's aspiration for democracy is a goal we all subscribe to,' Mr Tsang said. 'The secretary for justice is a principal official and will have a voice ... his views are certainly respected and in matters regarding the legitimacy of laws, he is the final authority. We have no intention to seek an interpretation of the Basic Law but whatever we do, the whole team of officials will devote themselves fully to the task.' Mr Tsang said Mr Wong's political inexperience and lack of the strong mainland links enjoyed by his predecessor did not impair his suitability for the job. He said Mr Wong was appointed by the State Council, so there was no question of Beijing's lack of confidence in his aptitude or political leanings. Mr Wong said he did not nominate Mr Tsang because he did not know him well enough and felt that the nomination right was an important one not to be exercised lightly. While Miss Leung, 66, said she was pleased her resignation had been accepted as the workload of the post got 'ever heavier' and it would be irresponsible for her to go on as she was past retirement age. Mr Tsang praised her contribution to the city and said she would stay on the constitutional development taskforce until the end of this year.