Debate heated up on Wednesday after the Chief Executive said there is no separation of powers in Hong Kong, with the Legco president saying the executive, legislature and judiciary monitor one another while pro-Beijing legislator Michael Tien described the principle as an abstract concept.
Legco’s chief Andrew Leung sidestepped questions on whether he thinks Hong Kong has separation of powers, but instead said the executive, legislature and judiciary have been monitoring one another.
“At the legislature, we have worked according to the Basic Law,” he told reporters.
“The Basic Law has stated clearly in its different sections the duties and powers of the executive, legislature and judiciary. We think the executive, legislature and judiciary have always been monitoring one another and keeping checks and balances on one another when doing their job,” said Leung.
Reacting to Carrie Lam’s controversial remarks on Tuesday as she backed the Education Bureau's removal of a reference to the principle from textbooks, Roundtable lawmaker Tien said the separation-of-powers controversy was overblown.
He said what's important is that judicial independence in Hong Kong remains intact.
"The judiciary is totally independent. They have their independent right to rule and then the Court of Final Appeal rests with the judiciary," he said.
"These are concepts that are very easy and simple to understand, and this is what we should put into the textbook and explain to the students. Once you get into separation of powers, it's a different cup of tea."
In another development, the Education Bureau confirmed it'd removed a top judge's presentation on the separation of powers from its website, calling it part of their regular update of material.
According to the speech made by Patrick Chan of the Court of Final Appeal at a seminar in 2011, separation of powers is part of the local judicial system.
The bureau said the main point of the presentation was that the SAR has an independent judiciary, and that's exactly what the Chief Executive and education minister said in recent days. It said the CE had also made it clear that there's no separation of powers in Hong Kong.