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Global Times

Lam's remarks on 'separation of powers' serve as remedial lessons for HK society

Global Times

By Fan Lingzhi Source: Global Times Published: 2020/9/3 0:15:33

After Carrie Lam, Chief Executive of Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) government, told the media that there has never been a "separation of powers" in Hong Kong, some legal experts in Hong Kong began debating whether Beijing misunderstood the concept, while experts from the Chinese mainland said Lam's point serves as "remedial lessons" in understanding the constitutional order of the city.

Lam told a press conference on Tuesday she agreed with her Education Secretary Kevin Yeung, who called for deleting reference to "separation of powers" from textbooks.

The separation of powers is a centuries-old Western construct of government that puts separate powers in the hands of the executive, legislature and courts to ensure that no one branch is more powerful than another.

Johannes Chan, a legal scholar with the University of Hong Kong said the Basic Law shows a clear intention to implement the separation of powers and refers only to Hong Kong's legal system itself. This has been misunderstood by the central government, Chan said in a radio interview.

A member of the city's Executive Council Ronny Tong Ka-wah, disagreed with the Education Bureau's move to delete the phrase "separation of powers," from text books, the South China Morning Post reported on Wednesday.

"It is precisely because society has a lack of understanding [of this concept] … and many people might have the misconception that Hong Kong is a sovereign state and should therefore have separation of powers," Tong was quoted as saying.

"Lam's remarks actually serve as 'remedial lessons' for some Hong Kong people, from lawmakers to civil servants. They all need lessons to increase their understanding of the HKSAR's constitutional system," Li Xiaobing, expert on Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan, from Nankai University in Tianjin, told the Global Times on Wednesday.

Some problems emerged in Hong Kong because courts and some lawmakers from the opposition groups always emphasize "the rights they have" without fully understanding the rule of law in the HKSAR, and some have too shallow thinking about simply inheriting a British left behind - or blindly worshiping the West, Li noted. "We can't simply compare Hong Kong to a state, the executive, legislature and courts should cooperate with the central government as it's a SAR of the country," Li said.

Lam also emphasized on Tuesday that under the Basic Law Hong Kong is an inalienable SAR of China, which is an executive-led system.

"Removing text on the separation of powers can also be seen as 'a complete overhaul,' and until there is a clear understanding of that, the meaningless anti-government fight will continue among those who lack of vision and understanding of history," Li said.

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