Rule of Law Protector Should Not Be Left Unprotected

Statement

20 September 1999


This statement is issued in response to a series of denials of entry into Mainland China by the Chinese authorities of pro-democracy Hong Kong politicians and activists, the most recent of whom was Ms. Margaret Ng, a member of the Hong Kong legislature who has been defending vigorously the rule of law in Hong Kong.

The Hong Kong Human Rights Monitor condemns the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government (HKSAR Government) for failing to defend Hong Kong people's interests against abuses the Chinese central authorities. In view of the HKSAR Government's abject failure to carry out its responsibilities it leaves the British Government to seek a full explanation from the Central People's Government for the withdrawal of a visa from Margaret Ng, who is a British subject.

Margaret Ng was refused entry when she was at the Dragonair's counter at the airport to check in her flight to Mainland China to attend a seminar on Chinese law in Beijing with other legal professionals. Dragonair has disclosed later in a letter to her that the Chinese authorities had informed it and two other airlines two days before her intended departure that her visa to visit China had been withdrawn.

Margaret Ng is a strict independent with a strong commitment to protect Hong Kong's rule of law. She moved a motion of no confidence on Ms. Elsie Leung, Secretary for Justice of the HKSAR Government in March this year. In spite of strong support of the motion in the Hong Kong community, it was narrowly defeated in the Hong Kong Legislature Council which had not been returned by universal and equal suffrage and was dominated by pro-Beijing forces. Margaret Ng has also played a leading role in opposing the re-interpretation of the Basic Law by the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress requested by the HKSAR Government to reverse the judgment of the Hong Kong's Court of Final Appeal in the right of abode cases. Human Rights Monitor believes that she was "punished" for defending Hong Kong's rule of law against both the Chinese and Hong Kong authorities' intrusion.

Chief Executive Tung Chee-hwa has failed to assist Margaret Ng. Having initially agreed to enquire into the incident, he then merely informed her that the refusal was made in accordance with the Mainland laws. He has failed to tell her the reason for the refusal, or to protest against it. Worst of all, the Chief Executive said that he thought "we have to respect them when they have to make these decisions because it is within their power to do so" and he would not assist her under the One Country Two Systems principle. This is fundamentally wrong for three reasons.

Firstly, one country two systems does not preclude the Hong Kong Government from using common standards, especially those to which the Chinese authorities have voluntarily subscribed, to defend the interests of Hong Kong people. Such universal common standards include those set out in the two international human rights covenants signed by China, including freedom of movement, freedom of opinion, the freedom to seek information regardless of borders and prohibition of discriminatory measures based on political opinion.

Secondly, Margaret Ng is a Hong Kong Permanent Resident. The Government has a duty to protect her interest against oppressive denial or withdrawal of visa by another jurisdiction, be it the American or the Chinese central authorities.

Thirdly, Margaret Ng was "punished" for defending Hong Kong's rule of law in discharging her duty and exercising her power as a Legislative Councillor of Hong Kong. Her efforts to defend the One Country Two Systems against the Hong Kong and Chinese authorities has led to her punishment. It is imperative that the HKSAR Government should stop the Chinese authorities from punishing Hong Kong people and politicians for defending One Country Two Systems.

An active involvement by the HKSAR Government is the only way to bridge the vast gap between the Mainland and Hong Kong which this petty and vindictive harassment of Margaret Ng illustrates so clearly.

1999 (c) Hong Kong Human Rights Monitor


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