From our learned friends

The Hong Kong Bar Association has issued a couple of (fairly concise) papers on ongoing legal threats to the city’s freedoms.

The first is on the Mainland extraditions proposal (news reports here and here). One key point is that the proposed amendments are not necessary to ‘plug a loophole’ as officials claim; indeed, the ‘loophole’ is a deliberate omission by the Legislative Council years ago as a safeguard against China’s dismal legal system. The proposal also weakens safeguards by reducing legislative or judicial oversight and checks while giving more discretion to the Chief Executive.

The HKBA also points out that it is illogical for the government to exclude nine white-collar crimes from the proposal (to mollify the business community) while leaving other categories of offense in place – either the framework as a whole is unsafe or it isn’t.

The HKBA’s other paper is on the proposed national anthem law (report here). It says that the bill conflicts with (ie Mainlandizes) Hong Kong’s common law by including provisions that are ‘social or ideological’ or ‘aspirational and directional’ and do not entail punishment, and by being vague.

These two proposals – clearly orders from Beijing – have several things in common.

First, they bring Hong Kong closer into the Mainland system in terms of Beijing’s physical reach (extradition) and ideological control (the anthem).

Second, in both cases, Hong Kong officials assure us that everything will be fine because our wonderful local courts and independent judiciary will be there watching over everything all the time, so how can anything nasty possibly happen?

And third, although the extradition thing clearly rattles international business, there’s little or nothing anyone can do to stop them – as officials will demonstrate as they wave away the two HKBA papers.

 

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8 Responses to From our learned friends

  1. Chinese Netizen says:

    “We’re here from the government…we’re here to help.”

  2. Paul Lewis says:

    Hasn’t the Basic Law been interpreted several times using the excuse of “original intent”?
    Well, if certain things were left out, that was the original intent.
    They was left out on purpose.
    The original intent was not to include it !

  3. Knownot says:

    ” the ‘loophole’ is a deliberate omission by the Legislative Council years ago as a safeguard against China’s dismal legal system.”

    It is a blatant anomaly. The remarkable thing is that China at the time was flexible enough – could one even say wise enough? – to accept it. It seemed to justify confidence about HK’s future.

  4. Stanley Lieber says:

    No one knows which straw finally will break the camel’s back, but when it arrives, Hong Kong’s existence as a trusted international financial centre will be over forever.

    “Trust is like a crystal vase. Once it’s shattered, it’s broken forever.”

  5. Chris Maden says:

    I wonder how HK government officials remain vertical – do they have a titanium pole implanted where there spines used to be?

  6. Chinese Netizen says:

    @Chris: No…they are too used to bending over and taking it in the….

  7. Din Gao says:

    Cap 503 Fugitive Offenders Ordinance:

    2.Interpretation
    (1)In this Ordinance, unless the context otherwise requires—
    “arrangements for the surrender of fugitive offenders” (移交逃犯安排) means arrangements—
    (a)which are applicable to—
    (i)the Government and the government of a place outside Hong Kong (other than the People’s Republic of China or any part thereof); or
    (ii)Hong Kong and a place outside Hong Kong (other than the People’s Republic of China or any part thereof); and
    (b)for the purposes of the surrender of a person or persons wanted for prosecution, or for the imposition or enforcement of a sentence, in respect of an offence against the law of Hong Kong or that place;

    “(other than the People’s Republic of China or any part thereof)” is hardly a “loophole” but a deliberate enactment.

    The wording of the original bill and its briefing notes, if they can be found, will surely confirm the glaringly obvious.

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