The Hong Kong Education Bureau has justified the removal of a top judge’s presentation that described the separation of powers as a feature of the city’s rule of law from its website as part of an update.

The bureau told HKFP on Tuesday night that the 2011 presentation titled “The Basic Law, Rule of Law and Hong Kong’s Advantage,” prepared by then-permanent judge of the Court of Final Appeal Patrick Chan, was deleted years ago. It said a link to the 27-page slide for a seminar on the city’s mini-constitution might have remained viewable after its removal.

Photo: NowTV screenshot.

“The Education Bureau at the time uploaded that computer presentation to the relevant resources website. Removing old files or updating them from time to time is part of the bureau’s ongoing work,” it wrote in an email reply.

This came after Chief Executive Carrie Lam voiced her support for the Secretary for Education Kevin Yeung, who said on Monday that there was no separation of powers in Hong Kong, despite statements to the contrary from top judges earlier.

Local media such as Stand News and Citizen News included the link to Chan’s presentation in their reports on Yeung’s remark on Monday when it was still available to view on the Education Bureau’s website. But a “404 Page Not Found” message appeared when HKFP tried to access it on Tuesday morning.

The link to Patrick Chan’s presentation now shows “404 Page Not Found.” Photo: Education Bureau website screenshot.

In the now-deleted presentation, Chan said different duties of the government should be carried out by the legislative, executive and judicial branches. Each branch should serve its respective functions and be given the necessary powers.

He also said the robustness of the rule of law depended on the effectiveness of the checks and balances across the three branches.

On the necessity of the separation of powers, Chan wrote: “To prevent the concentration of power, which may easily lead to an abuse of power.”

File photo: GovHK.

The Education Bureau said Chan’s presentation pointed out that the HKSAR enjoys judicial independence under the Basic Law, which did not contradict Lam and Yeung’s comments.

The city’s leader said on Tuesday that the HKSAR adopts an executive-led system and she has the “unique” power to appoint judges, as well as approve legislative budgets. There was “no room for ambiguity” over the city’s constitutional order, Lam said.

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Kelly Ho

Kelly Ho has an interest in local politics, education and sports. She formerly worked at South China Morning Post Young Post, where she specialised in reporting on issues related to Hong Kong youth. She has a bachelor's degree in Journalism from the University of Hong Kong, with a second major in Politics and Public Administration.