23 January 2019
Student representatives from four Hong Kong universities burn copies of the Basic Law during the June 4th vigil. Photo: HKEJ
Student representatives from four Hong Kong universities burn copies of the Basic Law during the June 4th vigil. Photo: HKEJ

Who is truly rejecting the Basic Law?

While some observers complain that the June 4th candlelight vigil at Victoria Park has been following the same pattern every year, I have no problem whatsoever with the way the event was held this year.

However, the act of burning copies of the Basic Law by students from four universities during the event has drawn considerable concern and criticism.

As a matter of fact, my heart ached as I watched them do that. My heart ached not because the students rejected the Basic Law, but because they were so disappointed with it.

Throughout the debate on political reform over the past two years, the central government stressed that the framework must strictly abide by the Basic Law.

But it also released a resolution on Aug. 31, 2014 that many believe violates the original intent and true meaning of the Basic Law. As such, an election arrangement that is said to be strictly following the Basic Law, has been turned into a complete sham.

Although we have tried to reason with top central government officials on different occasions, and Hong Kong people even took to the streets and launched the Occupy Movement last year, Beijing has still refused to budge an inch on the issue.

Therefore, it is perhaps understandable that our disillusioned and disgruntled young people had no choice but to resort to burning copies of the Basic Law to express their anger, despite the fact that I didn’t agree with what they did.

Yet, if we cool down a bit and think again rationally, I believe the majority of the students and our fellow citizens would agree that we are all born free and equal, and we have to rely on the law to restrain the people in power from infringing our rights.

This is exactly why the Basic Law was created, and it remains the sole authoritative source that provides the legal foundation for the implementation of the One Country, Two Systems policy.

Perhaps many of our fellow citizens have already lost faith in One Country, Two Systems. Findings of several opinion polls indicate that the confidence of Hong Kong people in the policy has hit a record low.

Indeed, it’s not difficult to understand that. Since Beijing released the white paper on One Country, Two Systems a year ago, Hong Kong people have become increasingly apprehensive about the future of our city.

The incumbent leaders in Beijing seem to have started to deviate from the way their predecessors like Deng Xiaoping had interpreted the policy.

It appears to me that the main problem with One Country, Two Systems lies not in its original intent or design, but in the fact that our current leaders in Beijing are not executing it correctly.

To make matters worse, they are actually distorting the system in order to serve their own political agenda, which is typical of the practice of the rule of man as opposed to the rule of law.

However, if we really respect the rule of law like we always say we do, and if we truly believe that individuals should always behave in accordance with the system, then what we should do now is try our best to improve the existing system rather than overthrow it.

Having said that, I am going to move a motion in the Legislative Council next week urging the central government to act according to the basic principles and original intent of One Country, Two Systems when it comes to Hong Kong affairs.

Secretary for Justice Rimsky Yuen Kwok-keung said he was “frustrated” by the students’ act of burning the Basic Law.

Students who were involved in the act might be regarded by some as disrespectful to the Basic Law and One Country, Two Systems.  But it doesn’t necessarily mean that Secretary Yuen is more respectful to the Basic Law and One Country, Two Systems than the students.

When Beijing issued its white paper on One Country, Two Systems last year, dealing a serious blow to our rule of law, he didn’t say a word.

Then when the National People’s Congress Standing Committee announced the 831 resolution in violation of the Basic Law and basic democratic principles, Secretary Yuen again remained silent.

Perhaps only history will tell who is actually doing more damage to the Basic Law and One Country, Two Systems.

The article first appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on June 16.

Translation by Alan Lee

[Chinese version 中文版]

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Legco member representing the Legal functional constituency (2012-2016) and a founding member of Civic Party

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