Two more judicial review challenges have been filed against the government over a controversial plan to locate a mainland immigration checkpoint at the West Kowloon Express Rail Link terminus.

They came after an application from elderly judicial activist Kwok Cheuk-kin on Wednesday to challenge the government plan. The applications were filed by three Hongkongers, including veteran activist Bull Tsang, who said the government proposal violated the Bill of Rights and 19 articles of the Basic Law.

Under the plan approved by the Executive Council on Tuesday, the Hong Kong government will ask Beijing to issue an order declaring parts of the underground terminus to be legally regarded as outside the territory of the Special Administrative Region, and governed under mainland laws. The government will then seek to pass the proposal in the Legislative Council, where the pro-Beijing camp has a majority.

Hendrick Lui Chi-hang
Hendrick Lui. Photo: Hendrick Lui via Facebook.

On Wednesday, two applicants – social worker Hendrick Lui and retiree Li Ka-lim – jointly filed a judicial review to challenge the chief executive and the Executive Council.

They said the arrangement breached various articles of the Basic Law – including Article 18 – the Bill of Rights, and the Sino-British Joint Declaration.

Under Article 18, mainland laws cannot be implemented in Hong Kong, except for six national laws listed in Annex III, such as the Nationality Law of the People’s Republic of China.

They said they were concerned that in the designated mainland port area, Hong Kong people could break mainland laws for carrying out protests – such as by asking for vindication of the 1989 Tiananmen massacre victims – which are legal in Hong Kong but illegal in the mainland.

Lui was detained in a Shenzhen police station after reading late Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo’s Charter ’08 at a border crossing. He was released hours later.

Liu posted about the judicial review on Facebook on Wednesday: “I don’t have high expectations – I just don’t want to give up.”

tsang kin-shing
Bull Tsang. Photo: HKFP/Ellie Ng.

Bull Tsang, a member of the League of Social Democrats, applied for a separate but similar challenge on Thursday.

He asked the court to scrap the government decision and temporarily ban the government from implementing it.

The application said the designated mainland port area was not included in the list of national laws in Annex III, and thus the chief executive and the Executive Council have no power to pass a proposal to set up the mainland port area.

Tsang claimed in the application that the proposal violated articles 8, 12, 14, 16, 18, 19, 22, 28, 31, 35, 38, 41, 42, 63, 64, 80, 84, 87 and 116 of the Basic Law, and articles 5, 10 and 12 of the Bill of Rights.

Express Rail Link High-Speed Rail terminus West Kowloon Floor Plan
Proposed floor plan of the terminus. Photo: Legislative Council.

Tsang said the proposal endangers the personal freedoms protected by the Basic Law and the Bill of Rights. He said if it was implemented, Hongkongers could be detained by mainland authorities using mainland laws and stripped of their right to receive fair trial in Hong Kong.

Tsang also said the government’s claim that the Legislative Council can pass local legislation to deem an area legally part of the mainland is a violation of Article 11 of the Basic Law. The article states that no law enacted by the legislature of the Hong Kong shall contravene the Basic Law.

Kris Cheng is a Hong Kong journalist with an interest in local politics. His work has been featured in Washington Post, Public Radio International, Hong Kong Economic Times and others. He has a BSSc in Sociology from the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Kris is HKFP's Editorial Director.