The South China Morning Post sits down for a friendly chat with Anthony Neoh. The venerable establishment lawyer has just been appointed head of the Independent Police Complaints Council – but there is no mention of public-police relations.
However, we do get some interesting quotes on the possibility of Beijing ‘interpreting’ the Basic Law to override judicial reviews against the transfer of Hong Kong territory to mainland jurisdiction under the high-speed rail station co-location arrangement.
‘Interpretation’ of the city’s mini-constitution, formally by the National People’s Congress Standing Committee, is a way to instantly rewrite the law to suit the Chinese Communist Party. It was last used two years ago to pre-empt a court case on local legislators’ oath-taking – magically creating a new and retroactive law.
To the CCP, laws do not exist to protect the people from the government but vice-versa. After paying the document lip-service since 1997, Beijing is now openly contemptuous of the idea that the Basic Law can be a constraint on its own power over Hong Kong.
Neoh’s comments are diplomatic and he expresses optimism that whatever is happening will not affect Hong Kong as a business centre. But he is implicitly uncomfortable with the ‘interpretation’ mechanism (it ‘stirs up doubts and speculation’) and with the rail station precedent itself (‘where does this end?’).
By contrast, senior government officials would never suggest that ‘interpretation’ or co-location might possibly to some extent be undesirable. And Beijing’s most avid loyalists would loudly insist that they are wonderful. Neoh’s position is about as edgy and skeptical as an establishment insider can safely be in public. For now.
Both papers identify him. Is it necessary to semi-protect his appearance this way when the guy has admitted his wrongdoings? I suppose sympathizers of such people might argue he deserves a break for being man enough to fess up. Or you might want to spare his poor family extra humiliation. Thinking positively, it might be a good opportunity for the Brotherly Love Swatow Baptist Church to get a new name.