By Act Voice, Financier Conscience and Insurance ARISE.

An open letter to: Insurance sector lawmaker Hon Chan Kin-por, Finance sector lawmaker Hon Chan Chun-ying and finance services sector Hon Christopher Cheung Wah-fung.

A sound rule of law and legal system is among the key cornerstones of the insurance and finance industries. Under the common law framework in Hong Kong, it is the “separation of powers” that upholds our world-renowned legal system.

Rita Fan Hsu Lai-tai, who is a member of the NPC Standing Committee, recently pointed out that the separation of powers is neither implemented in Hong Kong nor stipulated by the Basic Law. However, Andrew Li Kwok-nang and Geoffrey Ma Tao-li, former and current Chief Justice of the Court of Final Appeal respectively, expressed different views on whether the separation of powers is implemented in Hong Kong.

Rita Fan
Rita Fan. File

In 2001, then Chief Justice Andrew Li said during a luncheon seminar organized by a chamber of commerce: “Judicial independence is the most basic feature in the common law system as implemented in Hong Kong, and lies at the heart of the separation of powers among the executive, the legislative, and the judicial branches, providing checks and balances against one another. The role of the court is to ensure the legislative and the executive branches adhere to the Basic Law and other relevant laws.”

Geoffrey Ma, the incumbent Chief Justice, said in the Ceremonial Opening of the Legal Year 2014 that: “The Basic Law sets out clearly the principles of the separation of power between the legislature, the executive and the judiciary, and in quite specific terms, the different roles of the three institutions. So far as the Judiciary is concerned, the ambit of its constitutional role is the exercise of judicial power, that is, the adjudication of disputes that come before the courts in accordance with the law.”

Geoffrey Ma Tao-li
Geoffrey Ma Tao-li. Photo: GovHK.

Do the honorable gentlemen agree to the above interpretation by both Chief Justices that the Basic Law has already clearly set out the principles of the separation of powers in Hong Kong?

If the honorable gentlemen do not agree with the two Chief Justices, would they then concur Rita Fan’s comment that the so-called separation of powers is just a wishful thinking on the part of the legal profession and supporters of democracy?

We hope the honorable gentlemen, as our industry representatives in the Legislative Council, could reveal their thinking as to whether the separation of powers is implemented in Hong Kong. If you believe it is the case, what will you do to defend it?

Also, Rita Fan has only mentioned judicial independence, but not legislative independence. As a member of the Legislative Council, do you agree that the legislature should be independent from the executive, and that checks and balances should be in place between the two? We would be much obliged if the honorable gentlemen can clearly explain your stand to the public with regard to legislative independence.

Guest contributors for Hong Kong Free Press.