It doesn’t pay to get Beijing too involved
Those who file judicial reviews over the joint checkpoint at the West Kowloon rail terminus should think again, it will only lead to another interpretation of the Basic Law
Though he was disqualified and never became a lawmaker, localist Sixtus Baggio Leung Chung-hang has achieved one lasting legacy: he taught legions of anti-mainland Hongkongers to call Chinese across the border “Chee-na men”.
Long forgotten as a derogatory term used by imperialist Japanese to refer to “racially inferior” Chinese, many locals nowadays are only too happy to use it against mainlanders.
Now, Leung may deliver another lasting blow to the body politic of Hong Kong: invite Beijing to offer another interpretation of the Basic Law.
Following the passage in the Legislative Council of the controversial “co-location” or joint checkpoint arrangement at the cross-border express rail in West Kowloon, he and his supporters are ready to launch a judicial review against it.
“Long Hair” Leung Kwok-hung, another disqualified lawmaker, has also filed his own judicial review application. At least three other lesser-known activists are planning the same.
There are several hurdles, which are difficult but not impossible to overcome, such as convincing the High Court to let them proceed, and to secure public legal aid.
The best scenario is that the court refuses their applications. But, as Bar Association chief Philip Dykes has warned, if given the go-ahead, any such efforts are likely to provoke Beijing to interpret the Basic Law again.
Beijing may choose to do so to pre-empt an unfavourable judgment or to do so afterwards.
Either way, there is no way the central government or the Hong Kong government would allow any judicial review to undermine
Last time the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress offered a Basic Law interpretation in 2016, it was in response to the offensive antics the two Leungs and four others used during their oath-taking in the legislature.
The opposition and pro-government camps fight over practically everything, but both sides adhere to the mainstream legal view that the less Beijing is involved in local judicial affairs, the better.
No one doubts the constitutional power of the standing committee to interpret any part of the Basic Law it so chooses, but most Hong Kong people probably agree that it’s best to avoid provoking it.