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Monday, November 7, 2016, 02:26

Interpretation of Basic Law wins public support in HK

By Willa Wu

HONG KONG - People from all walks of life in Hong Kong have given their earnest support for the nation’s top legislative body to make an interpretation of the SAR’s Basic Law.

Legal professionals and political heavyweights said an interpretation is appropriate and necessary. Elsie Leung Oi-sie, deputy director of the Hong Kong Basic Law Committee under the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress (NPCSC), said the top legislature’s interpretation will give clear direction on administering oath-taking, and help to end the political standstill that the city was subject to following offensive oath-taking antics by two separatist lawmakers-elect in mid-October.

Article 158 of the Basic Law says the power of interpretation of the Basic Law “shall be vested in the NPCSC”. The NPCSC making interpretations is part of the city’s legal establishment according to the Basic Law. Proven by practice, earlier NPCSC interpretations are compatible with the city’s independent judiciary and rule of law, she explained.

NPC member and vice-chairman of Hong Kong’s largest political party the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong, Brave Chan Yung, believed the interpretation will get Hong Kong back on track to faithfully implement the “One Country, Two Systems” policy. He said it could help prevent separatists from entering Hong Kong’s governance bodies.

The Small and Medium Law Firms Association of Hong Kong said in a statement on Sunday that the NPCSC interpretation will prevent Hong Kong from long-term political wrangling and bring social stability. What the NPCSC interpretation does is in line with the interests of Hong Kong as well as the nation.

Wong Kwok-yan, a member of the association, said the interpretation will make Article 104 of the Basic Law clearer and more specific, therefore will benefit Hong Kong’s prosperity and stability.

The Hong Kong Federation of Education Workers said the interpretation will be timely and well warranted. The professional group believes that an NPCSC interpretation will help address the oath-taking controversy by the two separatist lawmakers-elect Sixtus Leung Chung-hang and Yau Wai-ching.

The federation added that “Hong Kong independence” jeopardized the nation’s and the city’s security and the duo’s behavior had crossed the bottom line of the “One Country, Two Systems” policy.

Many showed their support by joining a rally on Sunday. They said the NPCSC interpretation will provide clear legal principles for local courts to follow. Some sprayed disinfectant fluid on cardboard written with the characters “Hong Kong independence”, expressing the hope that separatist advocacy can be “sterilized” from public discourse in Hong Kong.

Over the 19 years since Hong Kong’s reunification with the motherland, the NPCSC has made interpretations of the Basic Law four times, including a famous right of abode case in 1999 and the beginning of the term of the Chief Executive in 2005. Hong Kong’s judiciary, the SAR government and the NPCSC itself all have the power to start the process.

willa@chinadailyhk.com
 
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