Death of the rule of law warning

Top News | Phoenix Un 11 Jan 2019

It would be the "death" of the rule of law if the chief executive intervenes in the UGL case, Carrie Lam says.

She was responding to Democrat James To Kun-sun, who said Lam should ask Secretary for Justice Teresa Cheng Yeuk-wah to reconsider seeking independent legal advice before deciding not to prosecute former chief executive Leung Chun-ying.

The DoJ issued a statement last month saying no action would be taken against Leung, who received HK$50 million from the Australian engineering firm UGL, as there was "insufficient evidence to institute prosecution."

To said Cheng's decision not to send the case to external lawyers failed to avoid any perception of partiality, and both the Bar Association and Law Society cast doubts on it.

"Is it the case that you can do nothing but betting on the credibility of you and your government over this issue, and citizens can only witness the decline of the rule of law?" To said, suggesting that Lam at least ask Cheng to reconsider seeking external legal advice.

Lam reiterated that under the Basic Law, the secretary for justice should make prosecution decisions without interference.

"If the chief executive really participated in it, it might, as you have said, be really the 'day of death' of the rule of law," Lam said.

She also said she trusted Cheng as she had recommended her appointment to Beijing and "if I disagreed with her decision, she might not be the secretary for justice anymore."

Civic Passion lawmaker Cheng Chung-tai focused on the justice secretary's reasoning for not prosecuting Leung for misconduct in public office.

"The DoJ had said since there is no conflict of interest on the part of Mr Leung, there was no legal requirement for him to make a declaration of the amount that he was to receive under the agreement with UGL, entered into before he became the chief executive," Cheng said.

"Does it mean the government has accepted this criterion of the declaration of interest, and has introduced it as the guideline for civil servants?"

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