Chief Executive John Lee said it is "most appropriate" for the court to deal with former media mogul Jimmy Lai’s case after the National People’s Congress Standing Committee (NPCSC) interprets the national security law.
Speaking to reporters ahead of the weekly Executive Council meeting on Tuesday, Lee said the Department of Justice is applying to adjourn the case, which is due to start in two days.
He stressed there’s a need to seek clarifications to the security law enacted by the National People's Congress, after the Court of Final Appeal on Monday approved the admission of King’s Counsel Tim Owen in Lai's case.
The State Council's Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office on Monday said it resolutely supported Lee's decision to ask Beijing to interpret the national security law, adding that the court ruling had violated "the legislative spirit and legal logic" of the law.
The CE said he believes the central government will handle his request for an interpretation expeditiously.
"The most appropriate way forward is for the NPCSC to issue an interpretation and the case is handled accordingly. This is the approach that is in the best interest of this case and our legal system," he said.
Lee added that it's up to the country's top legislative body to decide when and what will be interpreted.
"How eventually as a result of my request, the interpretation will be made is the prerogative and the absolute authority of the NPCSC. At the present moment, I'm only requesting for an interpretation of the law to address my question."
Meanwhile, senior counsel Ronny Tong told RTHK’s Hong Kong Today programme that he had been taken aback by the strong reaction to the news that the government is seeking an interpretation of the national security law.
Tong, who's also an executive councillor, said it was understandable for the government to want Beijing to address "a loophole" in the law.
However, he stressed the NPCSC does not undertake judicial functions.
"The interpretation that the NPCSC makes is a legislative interpretation, in other words, it doesn't decide who is right and who is wrong. It merely lays down the legal principles relevant to a particular situation. The legislative interpretation, or the power of the legislative interpretation, bears no conflict to the judicial function of the Hong Kong courts," Tong said.