Is that an interpretation I smell in the air?

The High Court rejects the Hong Kong government’s genius mask ban. A Beijing spokesman calls the ruling a ‘direct challenge to the authority of the Standing Committee of National People’s Congress and the chief executive’. Awkwardly, the CE’s own government says it will comply with the ruling (though possibly appeal).

More mouth-frothing follows from various Mainland ‘experts’ who suggest that the court is ignorant, living in a ‘dinosaur era’ and ‘inciting protesters’. One rants about ‘infiltration of politics into the judiciary’.

Assuming an appeal would be time-consuming and unpredictable, it looks like Beijing will use its ‘interpretation’ mechanism to overrule the court. The process is dressed up in blather about the NPC Standing Committee divining the true, authentic and original (but hitherto unnoticed) meaning of the Basic Law (the wording of which says mysteriously something totally different). In reality, it is an instant rewrite to make the mini-constitution say whatever happens to suit the Communist Party at the time.

It is so heavy-handed and unconvincing – and clearly a travesty of Hong Kong’s common law system – that Beijing has used it sparingly, either out of expediency in specific cases or to make a point of principle. It this case the ‘interpretation’ might rest on issues of security and public order, or on the Hong Kong court’s impertinence in ruling on a law’s constitutionality (or both). But to the world watching, it will look both absurd (a mask ban, seriously?) and a blatant violation of rule of law in Hong Kong.

Meanwhile, Hong Kong’s hapless officials must put on an act of respecting the local judiciary and groveling to the CCP simultaneously.

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19 Responses to Is that an interpretation I smell in the air?

  1. Chris Maden says:

    The CCP despises British colonialism, yet is all set to “reinterpret” the Basic Law to uphold a law passed at the height of the colonial era.

    I may be missing something, but does blatant hypocrisy constitute moral leadership?

  2. old git says:

    That judgment reminded the HK Govt and the PRC that the handover in 1997 changed the way HK worked. The HK CE did not replace the HK Gov. who represented a sovereign U.K. Instead, LegCo had responsibility for law-making after the handover = a departure from the old ways.

  3. Stephen says:

    So with the end of the PolyU standoff, is it peace in our time ? Or will the CCP and Patrick Nip reignite hostilities by a basic law interpretation and cancellation of the district council elections respectively ?

  4. Gerald Simmonds says:

    Actually I wish that that glum-faced shoe-shiner Tam You-chung WOULD wear a mask.

  5. Gerald Simmonds says:

    Tam Yiu-chung – dammed auto-correct!

  6. The inability to challenge in court the constitutionality of anything the government chooses to do would be far more damaging to the rule of law in Hong Kong than any number of petrol bombs.

  7. The Corridors of Powerless says:

    Hong Kong’s much vaunted “independent judiciary” is a lot like the British monarch. They both have absolute legal power right up until either actually try to use said powers. Dissolution will swiftly follow

  8. david says:


    Bloody pedants, declares Gerald.

  9. Cassowary says:

    @Private Beach – It would be worse than the extradition bill.

  10. PaperCuts says:

    Who run Barter Town??

  11. Hong Kong Hibernian says:

    The amazing news is that HKU has a psychic within the faculty of education!

    Wang Dan, an associate prof. whose interests include “Sociology of education, Rural education in China, Teachers’ work and workplace, Organizational studies on schools and School leadership”, (which is apparently why the Global Slimes articled referred to has included her as one of the ‘experts’ on the HK High Court’s ruling [insert guffaw here]), is also so well qualified that she can say with CERTAINTY that the ruling on the anti-mask law will “further weaken the authority of the government and lead to anarchy and terrorism”.

    aaaah, Ms. Wang. Clairvoyance is an awful burden to bear! You may soon find yourself working in some dark and dank room at the Education Bureau’s ‘Doing The Same Thing Year After Year After Year’ Department.

  12. Reactor #4 says:


    Isn’t it “pendants”?

  13. Gumshoes says:

    I know I shouldn’t, but I frequently read the SCMP comments to get the troll temperature. The double think about the interpretation is outstanding, can’t even farcically improve it. “This overruling shows that protesters are wrong and there is independent courts” followed by blathering screeds about how the CCP is the ultimate power and overruling it is essential.


  14. Mary Melville says:

    According to an Apple Press report, Tsang Yok-sing’s foray into PolyU may have been less than altruistic.
    “Former LegCo chief and DAB founder Jasper Tsang was accompanied by HKU Law professor Eric Cheung Tat-ming to enter PolyU, and assisted in persuading the underage protesters within to leave. Upon arrival, Tsang said a girl’s name, and subsequently personally accompanied the girl to leave. The girl, who wore sunglasses and a mask when leaving, was said to have disappeared from the PolyU area afterwards, was rumoured …… to be granddaughter of Zhu Rongji.”
    My take on the Prince Edward failure to tally numbers and transporting of arrested to Lai Chi Kok is that perhaps it was not to ‘disappear’ folk but to avoid an embarrassing revelation that some protesters ;should not have been there’.
    On the tear gassing of Queen Elizabeth Hospital, it appears that justification is that two wrongs make a right according to the daily police press con:
    Tear gas used near Queen Elizabeth Hospital affected the air inside and outside the hospital. Kong Wing-cheung said the blame should be put on protesters vandalizing on Gascoigne Road, Jordan, and the police were only to disperse and arrest correspondingly. He said the protesters “hijacked” the hospital, so some patients cannot receive treatment. Kong called the protesters “extremely despicable and shameless

  15. in response to the USA law on HK's status says:

    “Concerning constitutional development, universal suffrage of ‘one person, one vote’ for selecting the Chief Executive and electing all members of the Legislative Council is enshrined as an ultimate aim in the Basic Law. To achieve this aim, the community needs to engage in dialogues, premised on the legal basis and under a peaceful atmosphere with mutual trust, with a view to narrowing differences and attaining a consensus agreeable to all sides. The HKSAR Government will assess the situation carefully and take forward constitutional development in accordance with the Basic Law and the relevant Interpretation and Decisions of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress.”

  16. PaperCuts says:

    Yeah, let the sophistry begin!

  17. Reactor #4 says:

    @in response to the USA law on HK’s status

    Exactly. The labeling on the tin matches exactly the contents on the inside. Everyone who has been 4rsed to read the Basic Law knows this. Actually the impediment to HK nudging forward to a democratic system was the incident with the Legco Democrats when they chose to stop the first election where one of a number of Beijing-selected candidates would then be voted upon by the plebs. “We don’t like your rules (in reality THE rules), so we are going to sit on the side and sulk.” Anyone with half a brain cell knows that China plays the long game. If the folks up in Beijing form the impression that it might take them 1,000 years to get to where they want to go, they will use the 1,000 years. No point fighting. Indeed you’d best get with the programme otherwise you are doomed to spend the rest of your life frustrated. With China, most things we as individuals want wont happen in our lifetimes – it’s as certain as a law in physics. “I’d like to fly” – no you fucking can’t mate because you don’t have a set of wings (and evolution doesn’t work like that) and gravity ain’t going anywhere quick. Deal with it.

  18. PaperCuts says:

    People fear change I guess, unless it’s change you can believe in like Obama.

    He did great for Zion Inc.

    It’s a big pig trough out there and everyone wants to wet their snoot!

    How’s a mega tycoon and his 1% chums supposed to get any peace with all this noise? Uppity plantation hands are such a BORE.

  19. Guest says:

    China may play the long game, but its current ruler hasn’t been doing that in some 40 years.

    Instead, it’s get rich while you can and in any way you can. That’s how it’s been afflicted by corruption, food safety scandals, and ghost cities due to overbuilding (just to name three examples).

    It seems that the CCP and Mainland elites realize it doesn’t have 1,000 years and perhaps not even 100. Those who could jumped ship with their loot.

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