Pro-Beijing lawmakers do right thing on foreign judges

Their views on the judicial appointments may have been questionable, but it was their job to voice such concerns and a pan-democrat legislator was wrong to criticise them

PUBLISHED : Friday, 01 June, 2018, 3:55am
UPDATED : Friday, 01 June, 2018, 3:55am

Several pro-establishment lawmakers drew flak for raising concerns about the appointment of two foreign judges widely considered as “liberal” on the issue of same-sex marriage.

But in the end, all but one voted in favour of appointing Britain’s top judge Brenda Hale, and Canada’s former top judge Beverley McLachlin, to the Court of Final Appeal for a term of three years.

First female judges named to city’s highest court despite lawmakers’ concerns

While I find their views either socially regressive or questionable, the lawmakers are at least praiseworthy for voting against their own conviction – or if you prefer, their own biases and prejudices.

We are lucky to find two such judges willing to join the top court. But it’s ridiculous for the usual “yellow-ribbon” critics to round on pro-establishment legislators for voicing their views. Surely, all lawmakers are paid to air their concerns, even if you don’t share them or consider them absurd.

Pro-Beijing lawmaker Priscilla Leung Mei-fun claimed foreign judges could compromise the national interest in cases involving conflicts between China and the countries they are from.

Starry Lee Wai-king, chairwoman of the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong, fretted such judges could be politically biased in cases related to independence.

DAB No 2 Holden Chow Ho-ding didn’t like the judges because he opposed same-sex marriage in the name of “family value”.

Pro-Beijing lawmakers voice concerns over foreign judges' support for gay rights

Legal sector lawmaker Dennis Kwok, of the Civic Party, criticised them for “politicising” the judiciary and ruining the well-settled principles of the Basic Law. That’s a bit rich coming from Kwok. Aren’t pan-democrats always complaining that their pro-government rivals are turning the legislature into a rubber stamp?

Now those same rivals were actually raising concerns against the government supporting the appointment of the judges.

Nominated by the Judicial Officers Recommendation Commission – an independent committee comprising the chief justice, the secretary for justice and representatives of the legal profession – the judges were appointed by the chief executive.

You may or may not share those pro-establishment lawmakers’ concerns. But should they have just shut up and voted yes to the judges’ appointment, as Kwok implied?

Politics must be kept out of the appointment of senior judges

In the final vote, they were all in favour, with only pro-Beijing lawmaker and “family value” guy, Junius Ho Kwan-yiu, abstaining.

And we all know how those pro-Beijing people never liked foreign judges. But in this case, they did the right thing.