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Director: Law Yuk Kai     Organizer: Ida Tse     Education & Project Officer: Kit Chan     Executive Officer (IT): Poon King Yin     Administrative Officer: Ivy Fung


For immediate release.

Press contact:  Mr. LAW Yuk Kai (Director)


Undermining democracy at all costs by a totalitarian regime


(Hong Kong: 26 March 2004)  Beijing announced that it has started its interpretation of the Basic Law by the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress with a view to defeating the strong demand for democracy today. This is another serious blow not only to the democratic developments in Hong Kong but also an attack on its rule of law and autonomy.


"It is clear that the rule of law in Hong Kong should not be undermined for narrow and short term political interest of some people," said Mr. LAW Yuk-kai, director of the Hong Kong Human Rights Monitor. " They cannot changed what the Hong Kong people want so they are attempting to twist the law. They rape the law while claiming to protect it. This is no rule of law and not even rule by law."


The rule of law in Hong Kong was established over decades of independent interpretation of the laws by a competent and independent judiciary without fear and favour, and independent of all political powers. Legal interpretation is done in accordance with legal principles involving equal opportunities for the contending parties to put forward arguments in support of their case. Such interpretation is not meant to serve any narrow and short term political ends. After all, laws, once enacted and until amended, have an independent existence and cannot be varied at will in accord with the political ends of those in power.


"The coming interpretation, like the previous one in June 1999, may go against all the ABCs of the concept of the rule of law," said Law. "Beijing appears to be attempting to bury Hong Kong's rule of law and smothering Hong Kong people's hope for universal suffrage. Although universal suffrage is clearly guaranteed in the Basic Law, it seems that it will not be put into practice in the coming years."


The announcement is also a hard blow to the promise of a high degree of autonomy.


The Human Rights Monitor consider it important for those people who are concerned about the true interests of Hong Kong to continue to speak out in support of the rule of law and democracy in Hong Kong. We call on the Hong Kong public to voice their opinions about this unnecessary and potentially very harmful interpretation. We believe that the stability and prosperity of Hong Kong depend on the rule of law, autonomy and democratic reforms in Hong Kong.