Secretary for Justice Teresa Cheng says it is impractical for people to expect the upcoming national security law to be completely in line with Hong Kong’s common law system, despite assurance from an Exco member suggesting otherwise.
“It is impractical and unreasonable to expect that everything in a national law, the National Security Law, will be exactly as what a statute in the HKSAR common law jurisdiction would be like,” Cheng wrote in her blog on Sunday.
“Yet of course, the legislation should be clear and understood in the HKSAR,” she said.
Her comments came as an Executive Council member and senior counsel, Ronny Tong, gave this assurance: "However the new law is written, when it becomes law in Hong Kong, the whole weight of the common law system will be there to ensure justice is done and seen to be done.”
Cheng also said there are a number of things in common between the common law system in Hong Kong and the civil law system on the mainland, including “retrospectivity, presumption of innocence, burden of proof and standard of proof”.
The justice minister also said there’s no need for a so-called sunset clause which sets a fixed period after which the law will become expired. She said even if the SAR eventually completes its own national security legislation in accordance with Article 23 of the Basic Law, it only deals with the matter “from the perspective of the SAR” instead of “the complete ambit of national security” that affects the entire population of China.
The Bar Association said in a statement last Friday that "the national security law is a law specifically made for the HKSAR. It needs to be construed and applied in accordance with the common law principles".