This file photo taken on June 29, 2020 shows a billboard promoting the Law of the People's Republic of China on Safeguarding National Security in Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) in the Central district in Hong Kong. (WANG SHEN / XINHUA)
The Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress — the nation’s top legislature — has begun deliberations on interpreting the Hong Kong National Security Law (NSL), with prominent political figures in the special administrative region welcoming the move, saying it will help to boost international confidence in the SAR.
The deliberations began as the NPCSC started its bimonthly meeting in Beijing on Tuesday.
Representatives of various sectors of Hong Kong’s community said an interpretation will help to clarify the legislative intent of the city’s National Security Law, offer Hong Kong people an accurate understanding of it, and fundamentally solve the problem of whether overseas lawyers in the SAR can handle cases involving the NSL.
Chief Executive John Lee Ka-chiu submitted a request on Nov 28 for the NPCSC to interpret the NSL after the SAR’s top court — the Court of Final Appeal — allowed activist Jimmy Lai Cheeying to hire British King’s Counsel Timothy Owen to defend him in a case concerning national security.
Henry Tang Ying-yen, a member of the Standing Committee of the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, believes it will help to clarify the legislative intent of the law and improve its framework
Lee made the request in accordance with Article 65 of the National Security Law for Hong Kong to clarify whether overseas lawyers, who are not qualified to practice generally in the SAR, can engage in national security cases.
The chief executive, who also chairs the Committee for Safeguarding National Security of the HKSAR, said he’s grateful to the NPCSC for accepting his request, and will be eagerly awaiting the outcome of the deliberations.
Henry Tang Ying-yen, a member of the Standing Committee of the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, expressed support for an interpretation of the NSL.
He believes it will help to clarify the legislative intent of the law and improve its framework. This will not only strengthen Hong Kong’s protection of national security, but also lift international confidence in its judicial system.
A Hong Kong resident takes a photo of the display of national and HKSAR flags on Oct 1, 2022. (ANDY CHONG / CHINA DAILY)
Wong Yuk-shan, a member of Hong Kong’s Basic Law Committee under the NPCSC, noted that the NPCSC has made five interpretations of Hong Kong’s Basic Law so far, helping the city to essentially solve many legal problems. He believes an NSL interpretation will be in accordance with the constitutional framework, and will not undermine the city’s rule of law or judicial independence
Wong Yuk-shan, a member of Hong Kong’s Basic Law Committee under the NPCSC, believes an interpretation by the NPCSC — the most authoritative legislative body in the nation’s constitutional framework — can help to fundamentally solve the problem of overseas lawyers practicing in Hong Kong, saying this is vital for the NSL’s future implementation.
He said although some local legal experts have proposed other steps to deal with the issue, such as revising the Legal Practitioners Ordinance, or regulating the work visas of foreign lawyers, such measures would have a limited effect.
Wong noted that the NPCSC has made five interpretations of Hong Kong’s Basic Law so far, helping the city to essentially solve many legal problems. He believes an NSL interpretation will be in accordance with the constitutional framework, and will not undermine the city’s rule of law or judicial independence.
Chan Hiu-fung, director of the AALCO Hong Kong Regional Arbitration Centre, said the interpretation is of vital significance in promoting a correct understanding of the NSL and ensuring the smooth practice of “one country, two systems”.
He said, currently, the nation has more than 294 laws, all of which have been continuously updated to better serve the public’s needs, and the NPCSC has constantly amended them. The move is normal and in line with the practices of other jurisdictions.
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