Update: Top judge says rule of law must be maintained

Sep 28, 2015

by Doreen Weisenhaus with contributions by Rick Glofcheski and Yan Mei Ning (Expanded Second Edition, Hong Kong University Press 2014)

September 25, 2015 (RTHK) — Chief Justice Geoffrey Ma has highlighted the importance of an independent judiciary, and the need to maintain the rule of law in Hong Kong, during a high-profile ceremony to mark the opening of the new Court of Final Appeal Building.

Ma said one of the principal themes of the Basic Law is the maintenance and continuation of institutions such as the rule of law, that he said “provides the social stability that is the foundation of a content and prosperous society”, and has contributed to Hong Kong’s success over the years.

He said the rule of law “remains as strong as it has ever been in our community. For our part, the courts and judges will always discharge their daily responsibilities with this firmly in mind”.

The top judge also stressed that the courts have a responsibility to adjudicate disputes impartially and according to law.

“Decisions of the courts may sometimes not be to everybody’s liking – whether they be private individuals, political and other groups, or even the Government – but it is not the role of the courts to make popular decisions,” he said.

Concerns over judicial independence have been raised recently over comments by Beijing’s top official in Hong Kong, Zhang Xiaoming, that the Chief Executive’s powers transcended that of all three branches of government – including the judiciary.

Zhang – the director of Beijing’s Liaison Office here, was in the audience, along with the mainland’s top judge, Zhou Qiang, and the Chief Executive, CY Leung.

RTHK story and video found here.

(Note: Zhang spoke Sept 12 at a seminar on the 25th anniversary of the Basic Law. His comments can be found in English here and in Chinese here.)

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