Chief Executive John Lee said on Sunday that it was his constitutional duty to ask the central government to clarify whether overseas lawyers can handle national security cases in Hong Kong.
Speaking at a seminar to mark the 40th anniversary of the promulgation and implementation of the Chinese constitution, Lee said his request for an interpretation of the national security law is of the utmost importance and has a profound bearing on national security.
“There was ample legal ground to ask the National People’s Congress Standing Committee to clarify the matter,” Lee said in his speech.
The request was made shortly after the Court of Final Appeal approved the admission of King’s Counsel Tim Owen in former media mogul Jimmy Lai’s national security case.
"Clarifying the above question is related to national security; it's of utmost importance and has long term implications. There's sufficient legal foundation to asking the National People's Congress Standing Committee to interpret the above question," said Lee.
Speaking at the same event via a video link, the director of Beijing’s liaison office in Hong Kong, Luo Huining, said the SAR must uphold "safeguarding the country's sovereignty, safety and development interests" as the highest principle.
Luo also said there’s a need to promote the "mainstream value" of patriotism and enhance the education and promotion of the constitution, the Basic Law and the national security law.
"Only when patriotism is established and carried forward, and only when people thoroughly shake off the influence of colonial rule, that the spirit of the constitution will be carved into the hearts of the people of Hong Kong,” he said.