Distinctive Hong Kong’s previous chief choose claims upholding rule of regulation not political

Hong Kong’s outgoing Main Justice Geoffrey Ma stands outdoors the Court docket of Last Enchantment soon after his retirement ceremony in Hong Kong, China January 6, 2021. REUTERS/Lam

  • Rule of regulation ‘not a political concept,’ Geoffrey Ma tells Law Modern society
  • Ma calls on judges to function ‘without fear or favour or bias’
  • Speech will come amid fraught election at legal organisation

HONG KONG, Aug 25 (Reuters) – Hong Kong’s former main judge urged solicitors to continue on speaking up for the rule of legislation, declaring it was their general public obligation and not political, as legal professionals selected a council to govern their career overshadowed by a national stability regulation imposed by China.

Previous main justice Geoffrey Ma manufactured his remarks to a number of hundred customers of the Law Culture on Tuesday and later provided Reuters with a transcript of the speech in response to questions.

Hong Kong judges symbolise one particular of the main promises of the city’s return from British to Chinese rule in 1997 alongside with ongoing freedoms: the suitable to a truthful demo and equality beneath the law, all administered by an unbiased judiciary.

Senior governing administration officials, led by Chief Govt Carrie Lam, and professional-Beijing media experienced warned the modern society in opposition to turning out to be “political”, accusing some candidates of bias. browse much more

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

“Main between the duties owed in the general public interest is the aid of the rule of law … The rule of law is not a political thought,” explained Ma, who retired in January right after 10 several years as chief justice and practically 20 years as a judge. “It is a thought that has, as its basis, the regulation by itself and its spirit.”

The rule of law involved the independence of the judiciary – another facet that was “not a political thought”, Ma stated.

This intended judges “will discharge their tasks without panic or favour or bias or self-desire,” he claimed, adding that fairness and equality in advance of the law were “the very attributes that outline justice itself”.

Some lawyers explained Ma’s remarks have been strange, presented the very low profile senior judges have a tendency to preserve in retirement.

Ma mentioned in an email to Reuters that his remarks did not – and had been not supposed to – deal with new remarks by Lam and other folks, for which he could “obviously give no comment”.

“I cannot of course talk for other folks as to how they pick out to interpret what was stated,” he reported.

The Hong Kong authorities did not quickly answer to requests for comment.

In a reaction to Reuters, the Hong Kong judiciary referred again to a speech by Main Justice Andrew Cheung in Might in which he explained legal practitioners really should “communicate up for the judiciary, not only in security of judicial independence, but also in defence of its … name as an unbiased judiciary”.


China imposed national security laws on the town in June 2020 to quell anti-federal government unrest. The legislation punishes what authorities broadly refer to as secession, subversion, terrorism and collusion with overseas forces critics said it would be utilized to crush dissent.

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

A group of judges handpicked by Lam to hear nationwide security cases are now contending with the first of a number of conditions that could see more than 100 outstanding opposition figures jailed for daily life on many expenses, which includes subversion.

“All of us are needed to carry on to discharge our responsibility to safeguard countrywide protection with profound braveness and entire assurance,” Lam reported in July. Officials in Hong Kong and Beijing have continuously stated that persons who abide by the regulation have nothing to concern and it would only concentrate on a little minority of “troublemakers”.

Hong Kong returned to China beneath a “just one nation, two techniques” formulation, which assured its freedoms and impartial lawful procedure. China denies interfering with its way of existence.

Several hours following Ma spoke, 5 candidates pledging “professionalism” about politics were confirmed to have swept the election for the society’s governing council, where five of 20 seats ended up up for grabs.[nL4N2PW062]

Right after Ma spoke and just before the votes were being declared, the International Situations, a newspaper printed by China’s ruling Communist Celebration, explained the society’s election as a “struggle involving justice and evil”.

The result of the Legislation Culture vote shattered the hopes of legal professionals who needed harder action to protect the rule of law in the world wide monetary hub.

Just one of the a few candidates described as “liberal” by pro-Beijing media, incumbent Jonathan Ross, withdrew about the weekend, stating he required to secure the protection of himself and his loved ones.

Modern society President Melissa Pang mentioned her organisation would continue to defend the rule of law from a neutral stance.

“Professionalism is quite crucial,” she explained soon after the effects have been introduced. “In conditions of politics, we are apolitical.”

In a response to queries from Reuters, Pang claimed later on they were “graced” by Ma’s presence at the function and she did not see any undertone of challenge in his “inspiring speech”.

“The Regulation Modern society….has normally been and will carry on to be totally fully commited to safeguarding the rule of law.”

Ma, accepting an honour of lifetime membership in the society, mentioned the entire body experienced prolonged understood the “legitimate indicating” of the rule of regulation.

“Not only that, the Legislation Modern society actively supported it and has, when the celebration demanded it, unambiguously spoken out,” he claimed in his shorter speech at a harbour-entrance convention hall.

The 12,000-member specialist and regulatory system for the city’s authorized sector has a watchdog role more than authorized variations, and a say in the appointments of judges and legal professionals who sit on governing administration advisory bodies.

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

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