I may have left Hong Kong physically, but a serious part of my heart, the one that wears solicitors’ robes (which I actually only ever wore once in my life for my admission), still beats strong in Hong Kong as I watch in horror the continued erosion of Hong Kong’s judiciary independence.
The State Council Information Office of China recently issued a white paper that makes plain that the so-called “one country two systems” policy is merely a notion. The paper proclaims that China has “comprehensive jurisdiction” over Hong Kong, notwithstanding Article 22 of the Basic Law (Cap. 2101), which states:
No department of the Central People’s Government and no province, autonomous region, or municipality directly under the Central Government may interfere in the affairs which the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region administers on its own in accordance with this Law.
Instead Hong Kong’s “high degree of autonomy is subject to the central government’s authorisation” and that the principle of “two systems” is subordinate to the “one country.” And sure, Beijing is allowing Hong Kong to go forward with its plans of universal suffrage in 2017 for its next chief executive election, but candidates must take care to remember that “loving the country is the basic political requirement for all of Hong Kong’s administrators.” Included in China’s definition of “administrators” are judges, who have a responsibility of “correctly understanding and implementing the Basic Law.”
So forget judicial independence (which I had already seen eroding even in the few years I was practicing as a solicitor in Hong Kong), for you must be “confused or lopsided in [your] understanding of ‘one country, two systems’ and the Basic Law” if you thought otherwise.
This is just so sad. So Dennis Kwok, LegCo rep of the legal constituency, has planned a “silent march” of legal professionals dressed in black to march from the High Court in Admiralty to the Court of Final Appeal in Central as a demonstration in protest. Apparently this will be the third such protest by my fellow Hong Kong law professionals. Sadly, I don’t think much will come from this.
All the same I implore all Hong Kong legal professionals to please participate Friday 27 June 2014. Please see the information summarized below:
Date: Friday 27 June 2014
Meeting Point: G/F High Court (in front of the fountain)
Route: From High Court to Court of Final Appeal via Queensway, Queen’s Road Central and Battery Path.
Approximate Arrival Time at CFA: 6:00pm
Dress Code: Black