Date
19 July 2018
Winnie Tam says that with Hong Kong society deeply divided, the Hong Kong Bar Association has a bigger role to play to help bridge the gap. Photo: HKEJ
Winnie Tam says that with Hong Kong society deeply divided, the Hong Kong Bar Association has a bigger role to play to help bridge the gap. Photo: HKEJ

Winnie Tam: Beijing’s Basic law interpretation bad timing

Winnie Tam, chairwoman of the Hong Kong Bar Association, criticized localist groups for trying to use social justice to justify their actions.

Speaking at the opening of the legal year, Tam said the oath-taking saga involving Youngspiration duo Sixtus Baggio Leung and Yau Wai-ching was “meaningless and extremely offensive”, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reports.

The two were subsequently disqualified from the Legislative Council and lost their appeal. 

Earlier, the National People’s Congress Standing Committee (NPCSC) issued an interpretation of Article 104 of the Basic Law. 

The NPCSC’s Nov. 7 decision came before the High Court ruled to bar the duo from taking office after they deliberately misread their oaths during their swearing-in.

The duo are planning to take their case to the Court of Final Appeal.

Tam said the interpretation was “bad timing” and created the impression that Beijing was trying to interfere in Hong Kong’s affairs.

However, she said “people will understand” that it was imperative for Beijing to draw the bottom line to make sure those who do not respect the “one country, two systems” principle cannot be members of Legco.

With Hong Kong society deeply polarized, Tam said the Hong Kong Bar Association has a bigger role to play to help bridge the gap and help ensure rule of law.

Also at the ceremony were Chief Justice Geoffrey Ma of the Court of Final Appeal and Secretary for Justice Rimsky Yuen.

Ma did not comment on Beijing’s Basic Law interpretation but said the law should be applied equally regardless of the parties’ background.

Yuen said that it is better to have issues handled by Hong Kong’s own independent court system.

That will show that “one country, two systems” is being effectively implemented, he said.

[Chinese version中文版]

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