The chairman of the Hong Kong Bar Association said on Tuesday people should see how the national security law is interpreted by the National People's Congress Standing Committee (NPCSC) before commenting on its impact on Hong Kong.
Victor Dawes told a media briefing that the security law specifies that the NPCSC has the power to interpret the legislation and this is a mechanism to handle issues facing Hong Kong, a day after Chief Executive John Lee announced he would seek an interpretation over whether overseas lawyers who do not have full qualifications to practise in Hong Kong are allowed to take part in national security cases.
But Dawes noted that the security law is a relatively new piece of legislation, and said the association hopes any ambiguities can be clarified by the SAR's courts in future, and that the power to interpret the law can be used sparingly.
"Of course using interpretation to deal with this situation would undoubtedly result in certain doubts or discussions about our legal system. Now, the fact that doubts are created, of course, is not a situation that is ideal, but I do understand the government's position and the reasoning given by the chief executive," he said.
Dawes also dismissed suggestions that banning overseas barristers would undermine defendants' rights and freedom in legal representation, saying there are sufficient lawyers in Hong Kong to handle national security cases.