The former chairwoman of the Bar Association, Winnie Tam, said on Saturday people who put up materials advocating Hong Kong independence on university campuses are testing the limits of their freedoms and the law.
Tam said pro-independence banners that appeared at various universities last week may have constituted seditious intent and might have violated the crimes ordinance. But she also called these acts childish.
“I feel that young people, in their avid actions in defending what they see as core values, like freedom of speech, freedom in an academic environment, they believe that they wish to push it to the absolute limit, and to generate controversy in order to state that ‘we do have that freedom, and you cannot touch us’,” she said.
“But when it comes to sayings which are harmful to one country, two systems, which would actually challenge the authority of one country, I do not think it is a wise thing to do.”
Tam also said it was unfair to suggest that the Bar Association is withholding its stance on the government’s plans for a co-located border checkpoint for the Express Rail link to Guangzhou.
The proposal would allow mainland officers to enforce mainland laws within a specified section of the West Kowloon station.
A report by online media Citizen News said that a Bar Association committee “highly doubts” the constitutionality of the government’s proposal. But the association’s council reportedly decided not to make the paper public because of on-going judicial reviews.
Tam said she doesn't know about the paper, but backed the association.
“That paper was, according to a report yesterday, handed to the government for their consideration,” she said. “If we wish to influence anybody’s decision, it should be the government’s decision we would like to influence, and would like to render our own opinion on for their reference.”
“So it is absolutely the right way to do it, and I do not believe that deciding to make a statement either denouncing or saying whatever about the co-location plan is necessarily an appropriate or helpful thing to do at this stage,” Tam added.
The Bar Association released a statement on Saturday responding to the news reports, saying it was deeply concerned by the disclosure of internal discussions.
But it said, to dispel misunderstanding on the Bar Association’s position, it must emphasize that the Bar Council is still considering and discussing various legal issues surrounding the co-location arrangement. It said the association has not yet made a decision or adopted a position on whether the arrangement is or is not permissible under the Basic Law.
Last updated: 2017-09-16 HKT 15:14