Chief Executive Carrie Lam says she sees no need to intervene in the affairs of the Bar Association for the time being, despite Beijing’s scathing criticism against its chairman, Paul Harris.
Beijing’s liaison office had called Harris an “anti-China politician”, and said “it makes a mockery of the Bar Association by condoning Paul Harris to continue chairing the group.”
Harris had questioned the national security law imposed by Beijing on Hong Kong, as well as the sentencing of 10 veteran pro-democracy activists for their participation in two peaceful protests in 2019.
Speaking ahead of the weekly Executive Council meeting on Tuesday, Lam said people enjoy the freedom of expression, assembly and protests as long as they act in accordance with the law.
“For the time being, I do not see the case for any government intervention into the affairs of the Hong Kong Bar Association,” she said.
“But of course if there are instances or complaints about the bar not acting in accordance with Hong Kong’s law, then of course the government will be called into action.”
Lam was also asked about a police probe into the Civil Human Rights Front over allegations that it has breached the Societies Ordinance, as well as whether June 4 vigils commemorating the victims of the 1989 crackdown in Beijing go against the security law.
Lam gave a similar response to both questions, saying that while the Basic Law and the Bill of Rights enshrine and safeguard people’s rights and freedoms – they are not absolute.
“This right could be restrained in accordance with the law in order to protect the rights of the other people – the other people normally are the great majority of the Hong Kong people. And also to ensure law and order and stability in Hong Kong society,” she said.
Lam said given that people ought to respect the Chinese constitution, they should also respect the ruling Communist Party.
As to whether any person or organisation has broken the law, the authorities will look at the evidence, she added.