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Monday, November 7, 2016, 14:05

Chief Executive vows to enforce interpretation of the Basic Law

By Joseph Li in Hong Kong

Chief Executive vows to enforce interpretation of the Basic Law
Hong Kong Chief Executive CY Leung holds a press conference at the Central Government Office on 7 Nov, 2016. (Parker Zhe ng / China Daily)

HONG KONG – Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying said on Monday the government fully supports the interpretation by the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress (NPCSC) of Basic Law Article 104 with reference to the swearing-in of public officers.

He condemned separatist lawmakers-elect Sixtus Leung Chung-hang and Yau Waiching for willfully insulting the Chinese nation and people and spreading separatism when taking the oath on Oct 12. As head of the HKSAR, he and the SAR government had a duty to execute the Basic Law in accordance with Article 48. The government will enforce the NPCSC decision strictly and comprehensively.

“This means the central government exercises its authority very cautiously unless very necessary."

Leung Chun-ying, Chief Executive of the SAR government

The CE met the media on Monday at noon, together with concerned officials. This is after the NPCSC announced the interpretation of Article 104 , and Li Fei, deputy secretary-general of the NPCSC, held a press conference on the interpretation.

“The words and deeds (of Yau and Sixtus Leung) caused widespread indignation in Hong Kong and also in the country,” Leung said.

“Their behavior has severely undermined rule of law in Hong Kong,” Leung said, adding it had also hurt the “One Country, Two Systems” policy and had very negative impact.

“This interpretation ensures that when a person takes an oath, he/she must read out the oath accurately, fully and solemnly in accordance with Article 104,” he said.

“It further clarifies that any oaths taken not in a solemn and truthful manner are invalid, while the involved persons will be disqualified from public office and deprived of the appropriate benefits,” Leung added.

The NPCSC has interpreted the Basic Law five times since the handover in 1997.

“This means the central government exercises its authority very cautiously unless very necessary. This interpretation matters with such important issues as national unity, security and territorial integrity. The central government feels it is necessary to initiate an interpretation in a timely manner,” Leung added.

On the same occasion, Secretary for Justice Rimsky Yuen Kwok-keung brushed aside concerns that the NPCSC interpretation will affect and interfere with judgments on individual court cases. This is because the interpretation deals only with broad principles and is not case-specific.

Yuen said the interpretation helps to reiterate and emphasize the legislative intent of Article 104. It fully complies with the judgment by Justice Michael Hartmann on a judicial review case initiated by activist lawmaker Leung Kwok-hung in 2004.

“The interpretation has not altered Article 104,” Yuen stressed.

On the question of “retrospective effect”, Yuen said that in line with Article 158 of the Basic Law, court cases previously dealt with by courts after final appeals will not be altered by the NPCSC interpretation.

Yet in the likelihood of new cases and appeals, the courts shall adjudicate in accordance with the Basic Law provisions onwhichtheNPCSChasmade an interpretation.

The central government exercises its authority very cautiously unless very necessary.”

Leung Chun-ying, Chief Executive of the SAR government.

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