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Tuesday, November 8, 2016, 02:01

Li Fei: Interpretation has same status as Basic Law

By Luis Liu

Basic Law Committee chairman says top legislature has constitutional power and responsibility to interpret the law.

Interpretation by the nation’s top legislature over Hong Kong’s Basic Law enjoys the same constitutional status as the Basic Law itself, which local courts must follow, the chairman of the Hong Kong Basic Law Committee said on Nov 7.

Li Fei: Interpretation has same status as Basic Law

Briefing delivered by Li Fei, deputy secretary-general of the National People’s Congress Standing Committee, is broadcasted live on the screen of a shopping mall in Tseung Kwan O. Li said that pro-independence advocacy in Hong Kong threatens the sovereignty, national security and integrity of the country. (Roy Liu / China Daily)

It is the constitutional power and responsibility of the nation’s top legislative body ­— the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress (NPCSC) — to interpret the Basic Law when necessary.

Such moves are made to ensure accurate implementation of the city’s constitutional document, he stressed.

Current oath-taking controversy in the Legislative Council demonstrated loopholes in the city’s legal system on relevant issues

Li Fei, deputy secretary-general of the NPCSC

Addressing a press conference in Beijing on Monday morning, Li Fei, deputy secretary-general of the NPCSC and chairman of its Hong Kong Basic Law Committee, said the current oath-taking controversy in the Legislative Council demonstrated loopholes in the city’s legal system on relevant issues. The interpretation to Article 104 of the Basic Law is adopted to fill the gap and will help avoid similar disputes in future.

Li said pro-independence advocacy in Hong Kong threatens the sovereignty, national security and integrity of the country. It has jeopardized the city’s law and order, and hurt economic development. As a result it will destroy Hong Kong’s business environment and international image.

He explained that Beijing is firmly opposed to allowing anyone advocating separatism in Hong Kong to enter local statutory institutions.

Therefore, the NPCSC had a responsibility to issue an interpretation. This is because certain disagreements on provisions of the Basic Law in Hong Kong have affected the implementation of the law and the “One Country, Two Systems” principle, he said.

Article 158 of the Basic Law stipulates “the power of interpretation of this Law shall be vested in the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress”, which guarantees the legislature’s comprehensive and final authority over the constitutional document. Li said the interpretation by the NPCSC must be implemented thoroughly.

The interpretation “will provide legal grounds for the judicial and administrative organs in Hong Kong and legal guidance for residents in the SAR,” Li said.

Meanwhile, he also rejected speculation that Beijing was interfering with Hong Kong’s judicial independence.

“Some people in Hong Kong, who appear as legal experts, have spread fallacies and absurdities about the Basic Law when it was in the making,” the NPCSC deputy secretary-general noted.

“And they continue to distort the law though it has been in effect for so many years, resulting in a trap of public opinion, which suggests any interpretation of the law is equivalent to interference in Hong Kong’s independent judicial power,” he said.

Basic Law interpretations are also a constitutional component of the city’s legal system. The efforts were made to help Hong Kong courts implement the laws accurately, Li added.

luisliu@chinadailyhk.com

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