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Beijing official's remark on CE's 'overriding' powers drawn divided comments

By Kyle Sun

The top Beijing official in Hong Kong Zhang Xiaoming said during a seminar last Saturday that the Chief Executive is "above the executive, legislative and judicial."

Zhang, the current chief of the central government's Liaison Office said that separation of the three powers is not meant to be exercised in the local government system, instead is only a reference to the SAR.

"The Chief Executive's dual responsibility [to both Hong Kong and Beijing] means he has a special legal position which is above the executive, legislative and judicial institutions," Zhang said to law scholars and experts on a seminar marking 25th anniversary of the promulgation of Basic Law.

The pro-Beijing camp took Zhang's comments as explaining and promoting the Basic Law to the public.

Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee, lawmaker and chairwoman of the New People's Party, said that there is no need for worries that the Chief Executive may have dominating power.

"The Judiciary is independent and it operates entirely on its own," she said during a radio show. "The administration is subject to daily monitoring by the legislature, which is becoming more and more powerful, for example through filibustering."

She added that the CE does enjoy a supreme position in the local constitutional structure according to the Basic Law.

Lawmaker Priscilla Leung Mei-fun, from the Business and Professionals Alliance for Hong Kong, believed that Zhang was referring to the chief executive's special position in liaising between the central government and Hong Kong instead of the control over the three powers.

Pan-democrats think otherwise. Alan Leong Kah-kit, the Civic Party leader and lawmaker, told the South China Morning Post that Zhang was making the CE "an emperor" and the chairperson Emily Lau Wai-hing said Zhang had misinterpreted the Basic Law.

Convenor of the Path of Democracy and solicitor Ronny Tong Ka-wah said during a phone interview: "The separation of power is clearly performed in the local governmental system despite not being explicitly pointed out in the Basic Law." For example that the CE could be impeached by the Legislative Council but the CE alone cannot appoint or dismiss heads of the other two branches.

Tong said that Zhang's comment is confusing and he should give further explanations for such statement. "I don't know how the Chief Executive can be above legislative and judicial institutions under this framework."

Hong Kong Bar Association said in a statement that Zhang's description of the Chief Executive provokes anxiety among the public. The association believed that the chief executive is no way above the law under any description and ‘'the principle of separation of power will continue to be implemented'' within the Basic Law's framework.

The Chief Executive CY Leung said before the Exco meeting today that Zhang was talking about local political system and law, instead of individuals. He criticised that some interpretations are irresponsible, as Zhang's words were taken out of context.

(Edited by Crystal Tse. Copy-edited Joey Hung.)

《The Young Reporter》

The Young Reporter (TYR) started as a newspaper in 1969. Today, it is published across multiple media platforms and updated constantly to bring the latest news and analyses to its readers.


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