On Wednesday, China’s top legislature – the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress (NPCSC) – approved the plan following a unanimous vote and months of controversy. Hong Kong will effectively surrender its jurisdiction across a quarter of the new West Kowloon terminus, where immigration procedures will be performed by mainland law enforcement agents. Beijing’s “distortion” of the Basic Law in justifying the Express Rail Link’s joint checkpoint arrangement has greatly undermined Hong Kong’s rule of law, legal experts have warned.
Secretary for Transport and Housing Frank Chan Fan said the government has been doing its best to make the co-location deal between Hong Kong and mainland China as transparent as possible. He dismissed criticism that the co-location arrangement is a “black box” operation, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reports. Barrister Chris Ng Chung-luen, a spokesperson for the Progressive Lawyers Group, said Hong Kong courts might refuse to accept any challenge against the plan once it is approved and endorsed by the NPCSC, to the detriment of ”one country, two systems”.
What are the NPCSC’s powers of interpretation of the Basic Law? Article 67(4) of the PRC Constitution and Article 158(1) of the Basic Law gives NPCSC has a freestanding and plenary power of interpretation of the Basic Law. This was also confirmed in the Hong Kong Court of Final Appeal case of Lau Kong Yung v Director of Immigration (1999) 2 HKCFAR 300. However, this power should be sparingly used. Both the Hong Kong Bar Association and the Law Society of Hong Kong have in the past consistently called on the NPCSC to use this power with great restraint, as this would give rise to concerns about the rule of law and judicial independence.
On 7 November 2016, the Standing Committee of the National Peoples Congress (“NPCSC”), in purported exercise of its powers under Article 158 of the Basic Law, issued an interpretation in relation to Article 104 of the Basic Law (“the Interpretation”). 2. This is the fifth time the NPCSC has interpreted the Basic Law. In summary, and as further explained below, the Progressive Lawyers Group’s submissions on the Interpretation are set out in this statement.
(Epoch Times) Three days before the end of a public consultation on political reform, Hong Kong pro-democracy groups reaffirm Hongkongers’ resolve to reject a very restrictive Beijing reform package. The Progressive Lawyers Group recently called out the government for publicizing their campaign on radio and television.