October 22, 2021

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Special Hong Kong’s previous chief judge suggests upholding rule of regulation not political

Hong Kong’s outgoing Main Justice Geoffrey Ma stands outside the Court of Final Enchantment following his retirement ceremony in Hong Kong, China January 6, 2021. REUTERS/Lam

  • Rule of regulation ‘not a political idea,’ Geoffrey Ma tells Law Society
  • Ma phone calls on judges to perform ‘without panic or favour or bias’
  • Speech arrives amid fraught election at lawful organisation

HONG KONG, Aug 25 (Reuters) – Hong Kong’s former chief choose urged solicitors to continue on talking up for the rule of law, indicating it was their general public duty and not political, as attorneys selected a council to govern their job overshadowed by a national safety legislation imposed by China.

Previous main justice Geoffrey Ma made his remarks to quite a few hundred members of the Legislation Society on Tuesday and later on provided Reuters with a transcript of the speech in response to questions.

Hong Kong judges symbolise a single of the main promises of the city’s return from British to Chinese rule in 1997 together with continued freedoms: the proper to a honest trial and equality underneath the legislation, all administered by an independent judiciary.

Senior government officers, led by Main Govt Carrie Lam, and professional-Beijing media experienced warned the culture versus getting “political”, accusing some candidates of bias. browse much more

Ma told the modern society that lawyers’ “owed duties” had been to justice and its administration.

“Main between the duties owed in the community desire is the help of the rule of legislation … The rule of regulation is not a political idea,” mentioned Ma, who retired in January right after 10 a long time as main justice and practically 20 many years as a decide. “It is a thought that has, as its foundation, the legislation itself and its spirit.”

The rule of regulation included the independence of the judiciary – yet another aspect that was “not a political idea”, Ma said.

This intended judges “will discharge their tasks without concern or favour or bias or self-curiosity,” he reported, incorporating that fairness and equality ahead of the regulation have been “the really features that define justice itself”.

Some attorneys explained Ma’s remarks ended up abnormal, offered the lower profile senior judges are likely to sustain in retirement.

Ma said in an e mail to Reuters that his remarks did not – and were not meant to – deal with new comments by Lam and other people, for which he could “definitely offer no comment”.

“I simply cannot of study course talk for many others as to how they decide on to interpret what was explained,” he stated.

The Hong Kong govt did not right away react to requests for remark.

In a reaction to Reuters, the Hong Kong judiciary referred back again to a speech by Chief Justice Andrew Cheung in May well in which he claimed authorized practitioners need to “communicate up for the judiciary, not only in defense of judicial independence, but also in defence of its … reputation as an impartial judiciary”.


China imposed countrywide security legislation on the metropolis in June 2020 to quell anti-governing administration unrest. The law punishes what authorities broadly refer to as secession, subversion, terrorism and collusion with foreign forces critics said it would be applied to crush dissent.

In modern months, opposition politicians and activists have been arrested and new restrictions imposed.

A team of judges handpicked by Lam to listen to national stability scenarios are now contending with the first of numerous circumstances that could see much more than 100 distinguished opposition figures jailed for lifestyle on several fees, including subversion.

“All of us are expected to keep on to discharge our duty to safeguard nationwide protection with profound braveness and complete self-assurance,” Lam stated in July. Officers in Hong Kong and Beijing have consistently mentioned that people who abide by the legislation have absolutely nothing to fear and it would only focus on a small minority of “troublemakers”.

Hong Kong returned to China below a “a person region, two devices” formula, which assured its freedoms and independent authorized program. China denies interfering with its way of life.

Hrs just after Ma spoke, five candidates pledging “professionalism” above politics have been verified to have swept the election for the society’s governing council, where by 5 of 20 seats were up for grabs.[nL4N2PW062]

Soon after Ma spoke and just before the votes ended up announced, the World Occasions, a newspaper published by China’s ruling Communist Celebration, explained the society’s election as a “struggle among justice and evil”.

The outcome of the Law Culture vote shattered the hopes of legal professionals who needed harder motion to protect the rule of law in the world-wide monetary hub.

One of the three candidates described as “liberal” by pro-Beijing media, incumbent Jonathan Ross, withdrew about the weekend, declaring he desired to protect the security of himself and his spouse and children.

Modern society President Melissa Pang said her organisation would go on to protect the rule of legislation from a neutral stance.

“Professionalism is incredibly crucial,” she said after the success have been announced. “In terms of politics, we are apolitical.”

In a response to thoughts from Reuters, Pang explained later they were being “graced” by Ma’s presence at the celebration and she did not see any undertone of problem in his “inspiring speech”.

“The Law Society….has usually been and will carry on to be thoroughly dedicated to safeguarding the rule of law.”

Ma, accepting an honour of existence membership in the culture, claimed the body experienced extensive understood the “real indicating” of the rule of regulation.

“Not only that, the Law Modern society actively supported it and has, when the occasion demanded it, unambiguously spoken out,” he stated in his small speech at a harbour-front conference hall.

The 12,000-member professional and regulatory system for the city’s authorized sector has a watchdog function around lawful changes, and a say in the appointments of judges and attorneys who sit on government advisory bodies.

Reporting by James Pomfret, Greg Torode, Anne Marie Roantree and Jessie Pang
Modifying by Gerry Doyle and Nick Macfie

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