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Tuesday, October 6, 2015, 08:39

Nobody is above the law

By Staff Writer

The city’s graft-buster has finally brought charges against former chief executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen following an investigation spanning more than three years. Tsang appeared in court on Monday facing charges of two counts of misconduct in public office.

Much attention has been focused on the time the Independent Commission Against Corruption has taken to complete its investigation in Tsang’s case, with the ICAC having been accused of dragging its feet. But we should not be surprised by the length of the probe if we take into consideration the gravity of the case and compare it with the time taken to investigate the corruption case of Rafael Hui Si-yan, former chief secretary, which was also more than three years.

On the contrary, the fact that charges have finally been laid against Tsang is strong evidence to refute accusations that the SAR government is unwilling to take action against its former leader. What is more, in light of the recent controversy over separation of powers, it could be interpreted as a strong testimony to judicial independence in Hong Kong.

Recently, remarks by Zhang Xiaoming, director of the Liaison Office of the Central People’s Government in the Hong Kong SAR, over the constitutional status of the SAR’s Chief Executive were deliberately misinterpreted by some people to mean the judiciary had lost its independence in exercising its power and that the CE was above the law.

So the prosecution against the former CE is the perfect answer to such unfounded accusations — nobody is above the law. The case has also gone a long way toward demonstrating the government’s determination to uphold the rule of law.

But, as Secretary for Justice Rimsky Yuen Kwok-keung said in a recent media interview, the rule of law, though still intact in Hong Kong, is facing challenges from the opposition camp, which fully demonstrated its defiance against the law during the illegal “Occupy Central” movement last year. Members of the opposition foolishly believed they could do whatever they wanted to do as long as they thought they had a political justification — even defying court orders.

The rule of law, as Yuen rightly pointed out, is the cornerstone of democracy and no matter how one interprets it, the law must be respected. That is the bottom line.

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