More Beijing mouthpieces turn up heat on new HK Bar Association chief

Published (HKT): 2021.02.01 18:03

Pro-Beijing newspapers lashed out at Paul Harris, new chairperson of Hong Kong Bar Association, for expressing concerns about the national security law.

In an editorial on Monday, Ta Kung Pao questioned if Harris has respect for the constitution, the basic law as well as national sovereignty, security and interests.

It cited an article written by Harris in 2008, in which he discussed if Tibet should be entitled to self-determination. “Self-determination need not mean independence,” he wrote. “In many situations, autonomy within a larger nation state offers the best of both worlds, combining the benefits of being part of a large state in terms of defense, foreign relations and economic opportunity, with preservation of local laws, customs and culture from outside interference. Hong Kong is a good example.”

However, the editorial accused Harris of advocating for Tibet’s independence and encouraging Hong Kong youngsters to seek independence.

Another article penned by Song Sio-chong, a professor at the Center for Basic Laws of Hong Kong and Macau at Shenzhen University, lambasted Harris for lacking basic knowledge of the law.

Last month, Harris had expressed concerns about provisions in the national security law, which appeared to place officials “above the law.” In response, Song wrote that the national security office guarantees the safety of the country and the city and should therefore enjoy exemptions. “What’s wrong with that?” she asked.

Writing in Wen Wei Po, Willy Fu, former senior police inspector and an adjunct law professor at Beijing Jiaotong University, accused Harris of making false remarks right upon taking up the role, publicly challenging the authority of the National People’s Congress Standing Committee and speaking up for forces that are against China and cause chaos in Hong Kong.

Fu claimed that many members of the association disagree with Harris’ remarks and suggest reforming the association.

Harris has come under attack from state media as well as the Liaison Office. He had clarified his remarks since, stating his support for “one country, two systems,” high degree of autonomy and the Basic Law. Suggesting modifications to a legislation is different from challenging it and the two should not be confused, he added.

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