June 26, 1999

NPC Standing Committee's Reinterpretation Inflicts Mortal Wound on the Rule of Law

As pro-democracy legislators feared, the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress (NPCSC) announced today that it has reinterpreted the Basic Law in accordance with a request made by the Hong Kong Government which, in effect, overrules the Court of Final Appeal (CFA).

Martin Lee, Chairman of the Democratic Party, was not surprised by the reinterpretation and stated that although he had been hoping for the best, he had been expecting the worst for some time already. "This re-interpretation confirms that the Government has joined hands with Beijing to form a conspiracy aimed at ruining the Rule of Law. They have succeed in ripping open a gaping hole through which they will attempt to make further incursions that threaten to destroy the high degree of autonomy guaranteed to Hong Kong under the Basic Law."

Quoting a senior-level judge, Martin lamented "The Rule of Law has been dealt a mortal wound."

After the CFA rejected the Government's interpretation of key provisions of the Basic Law regarding the right of abode, the Government began circulating an apocalyptic report forecasting that the CFA decision would lead to massive immigration and tremendous economic burdens. This propaganda was clever for it shifted the debate from questions of law to issues of policy that resonate with the public. And now the Government dares to accuse its critics - pro-democracy legislators, constitutional law scholars and prominent members of the legal community who have been defending the Rule of Law - as being the 'scaremongers.' Martin countered, "Mr. Tung Chi-hua is the one who caused the damage and now he wants to 'shoot the messenger.'"

Democratic Party Security Spokesperson, James To, commented, "Reinterpretation is tempting because it promises quick resolution to a complicated social problem. However, the best solution is not always the most expedient. Allowing politics to interfere with legal decisions will erode the certainty, credibility and predictability of our common law system."

The Government had its day in court and lost. But it refused to accept defeat. Like a child who was told 'no' by one parent, the Government rushed off to Beijing crying for a different response. Beijing responded by re-interpreting the Basic Law exactly as the Government requested. Martin concluded by saying, "The message to the world is simple. If the CFA rules in favor of the Government, its decision is final. However, if the CFA rules against the Government and in favor of you, then its decision is only semi-final."


| Home | Meet Martin Lee | About the Democratic Party | Press Releases | Recent Articles | District Activities | July 1 Manifesto | Photo Archives | Downloadable | Constitutional Documents | Related Sites | Search | FAQ | Feedback |

    Copyright © 1999 The Democratic Party. All Rights Reserved.