Wednesday, September 07, 2005

lets interpret the law

An interesting story appeared on the front pages of the South China Morning Post today saying that the Chinese Government (and by that I mean Beijing) have decided to ask the surviving members of the Committee that drafted Hong Kong's Basic Law to provide their thoughts as they went about drafting Hong Kong's charter over 20 years ago. Innocently, Beijing stated that this was so that the original intent of certain passages, particularly on the powers and responsibilities of the Chief Executive, Legislative Council, District Councils, can be properly interpreted. This of course sent howls of protest from the usual crowd of democrats such as Martin Lee (who was actually a member of the drafting committee, until he resigned in protest) that such an interpretation, although the intentions may seem pure, would go against the legitimate functions of the Court of Final Appeal (HK's Supreme Court) or the National People's Congress (the law governing body of all China) to interpret the Basic Law.

This of course stems from the fact that the Court of Final Appeal and the NPC have been targets in the past few years of having interpreted the Basic Law rather liberally, to the consternation of the democrats in this city. The most recent example being the brohaha over the length of term of Donald Tsang, who suceeded the hapless Tung Chee Wah. The way it goes, China will ask the sages who wrote the law what they meant by how long and by how much democracy HK must have etc...

Just imagine if that was the case in the Philippines, that those who sat on the Constitutional Convention that drafted the 1987 Constitution had the say, based on their recollection, how the Constitution should be interpreted. Think how interesting life would be now. No offense meant to the men and women who drafted it.

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