Letters from leaders of Hong Kong's political parties and government departments.
Dear citizens of Hong Kong,
Just as we hope that a new Secretary for Justice may restore and strengthen the rule of law which is so crucial to Hong Kong and the legal profession, Ms. Teresa Cheng has disappointed all of us from the very first day, kick-starting her appointment with blatant mendacity, a hollow apology, and a brazen refusal to step down.
By now, I am sure that all of you are well aware of the new Secretary for Justice’s violation of the law: despite being a chartered engineer who is well-versed in construction law, multiple illegal structures were uncovered in her house. With the cautionary tale of Henry Tang, the former Chief Secretary, one would have imagined that such a terrible blunder would never repeat itself.
If the Administration believes that this scandal will fade and wane like any other, I am afraid it is merely deluding itself. This city needs and deserves a Secretary for Justice who is professional and has the integrity to uphold and defend the rule of law for all of us. As the new leader of legal branch of the government, the society and the legal profession had high expectations for Teresa Cheng, and yet she had trampled on almost every single quality one expects a lawyer, let alone the Secretary for Justice, to have. To say the least, a Secretary for Justice who breaches the law and feigns ignorance for her mistakes is one that falls well below the required threshold. Yet, this scandal of the new Secretary for Justice does not seem to have stopped her from benefitting from the unwavering support by the Administration. Our Chief Executive Ms. Carrie Lam even backed her publicly and required members of the public to exercise tolerance.
All persons are equal before the law, and just because Teresa Cheng is the new Secretary for Justice does not, and should not, make any difference. It is also trite that ignorance of the law excuses no one – not to mention the Secretary for Justice, being an experienced senior counsel herself, could not have been ignorant about the law in the first place. Then what do we make of the rule of law in Hong Kong? How can we trust the government to continue our common law tradition and strengthen the rule of law, when even the Secretary of Justice herself can only barely hang on to her office because of her failure to tell the truth to the public and to comply with the law she proclaims to be the defender of?
It is with much delight that I congratulate Mr. Philip Dykes S.C and his team on their landmark victory in the Bar Association election last week. With Mr. Dykes serving as new Chairman of the Bar Association, it is expected that the Bar will continue to be vocal and outspoken, and will play a key role in protecting Hong Kong’s rule of law as it should and had in the past.
I am optimistic about the city’s future, and I believe the latest Bar Association election is just one of the many examples of Hong Kong citizens standing up and defending the values they cherish. Ultimately, it comes down to us – solicitors, barristers, but also every single citizen of Hong Kong – to stand firm and resolute in the face of our challenge ahead; and it is only together united that Hong Kong can grow stronger.