Justice Kemal Bokhary, a non-permanent judge of the Court of Final Appeal, warned when he retired as a permanent judge of the top court in 2012 that the rule of law in Hong Kong faced “a storm of unprecedented ferocity”.
He said at the time that voices disrespecting the city’s autonomy were growing louder and louder.
On Monday, the judge said during a luncheon at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club, “I think that my fears have been realized.”
However, he said, Hong Kong’s judicial system is standing tall amid the storm, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reported Tuesday.
Bokhary said there will be problems, sooner or later, as long as the government is not formed by democratic methods.
He said the right way for Hong Kong will be to continue with the “one country, two systems” approach, in which people in Hong Kong continue to live the way they have been living and gradually achieve social justice.
Recent calls for independence stemmed from the lack of progress in democracy in Hong Kong, Bokhary said.
He said he respected the right of the people advocating independence to express their views.
Bokhary said local courts must be prepared to face more and more challenges, stressing that judges “are all awake to those challenges”, and courts “must remain and be seen to remain impartial and outside politics”.
He said he remained confident in “one country, two systems” despite recent events, such as the disappearance of five Hong Kong booksellers, who finally showed up in mainland China, and the clashes in Mong Kok between police and protesters in February.
The courts will endeavor to protect the rights of Hongkongers before democracy is enjoyed by the people, Bokhary said.
Dennis Kwok Wing-hang, who represents the legal functional constituency in the Legislative Council, was also present at the luncheon.
He said that although Bokhary wasn’t explicit about the problems facing Hong Kong’s judicial system, he certainly stated his worries.
Kwok said that while he is also confident in the judiciary overcoming its challenges, a shortage of human resources will have an impact on how it can effectively deal with the cases that come before it.
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