Beijing’s liaison office on Sunday pressured the Hong Kong Bar Association to depose its chairman Paul Harris, after accusing the senior counsel of abandoning his professional ethics and the rule of law by speaking out against the prison sentences handed down to media tycoon Jimmy Lai and other activists earlier this month.
In a strongly-worded statement, a liaison office spokesman said Harris had spread ‘distorted remarks’ backing violent lawbreakers while ‘smearing’ law enforcement officials.
Harris had said in an interview that the prison terms handed down to Lai and others were the first ever handed down by a local court in relation to a peaceful, if unauthorised protest.
He had also warned that people may turn to violence if they are denied their right to express themselves peacefully.
But the liaison office said he was trying to justify violence and attempting to turn black into white.
The spokesman urged the Bar to consider the implications of him staying as chairman, saying the professional body’s leader should be a patriot.
“How can an anti-China politician with close ties to foreign countries fulfill the Bar Association’s past pledge to ‘defend the rule of law in the SAR, the Basic Law, and support One Country, Two Systems?’ Allowing Paul Harris to continue as chairman is the greatest irony for the association!” the spokesman said.
“We advise the Bar Association not to go any further down this politicised road”, he added, “lest it be dragged into the abyss from which it will not be able to emerge.”
The spokesman said this isn’t the first time that Harris had spoken out of turn, saying since he was elected chairman this year he had “ranted and raved about amending Hong Kong’s national security law, challenging the authority of the National People’s Congress Standing Committee, and opposed the rule of law and the constitutional order of Hong Kong.”
The pro-establishment camp had previously attacked Harris for being a member of the British Liberal Democrats.
Beijing pressures Bar over 'anti-China' Paul Harris
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