June 30, 1999

Hong Kong Government Betrays Promise of "One Country, Two Systems"

Tomorrow marks the second anniversary of Hong Kong's return to Chinese sovereignty. But the performance of the Hong Kong Government gives cause for alarm rather than celebration. Today, the Democratic Party highlighted more than fifteen events over the past two years which demonstrate that the Hong Kong Government is committed to serving Beijing rather than the interests of its own people. National People's Congress member Qiao Xiaoyang recently remarked that "one country" is more important than "two systems." Secretary for Justice, Elsie Leung, and other Government officials have been quick to parrot his ominous remark.

Mr. Martin Lee commented:

"Two years have passed since the hand-over and what do we see? The honeymoon is over. We were promised 'one country, two systems.' But rather than defending our system, Chief Executive Tung Chee Hwa and Secretary for Justice Elsie Leung collaborate with Beijing to destroy it. They insist that we learn to respect Chinese law and the Chinese way of doing things. But the Basic Law guarantees that our common law will be maintained and that our judiciary will remain independent.

Think of the government as a soccer team. The Secretary of Justice should be our goal keeper - the last defender. But instead of protecting the goal, she drives the ball into our own net. This is odd and disturbing. She betrays our team. How can we trust leaders who conspire to destroy the rule of law, which cannot survive when the Government refuses to protect, obey and enforce it.

A lawyer can no longer be certain what the law is or how to advise clients if Beijing is free to reinterpret it at their own discretion. However, I still have confidence in the quality of our judges and hope that they will continue to adjudicate according to legal principles and the merits of a case rather than political instructions from Beijing."

Democratic Party Vice Chairman, Dr. Yeung Sum, also criticized the government for slowing the pace of democratic development. Earlier this month, Secretary for Constitutional Affairs, Michael Suen Ming-yeung, said that political parties needed a decade to mature and that it would be at least ten years before the Government would permit all 60 members of the Legislative Council to be chosen by direct elections.

Dr. Yeung Sum commented:

"The government has no reason to drag its heels. They argue that we are not ready for full democracy. But how can we be less prepared than Taiwan or Indonesia? These arguments are ridiculous. We demand that the Government allow all 60 members of the Legislative Council to be chosen by direct elections by the year 2000."

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