Secretary for Justice Rimsky Yuen Kwok-keung addressed the missing bookseller controversy in a speech on Monday, emphasising that any unlawful arrest in Hong Kong would not be tolerated.
Speaking at the Ceremonial Opening of the Legal Year, Yuen said that the missing booksellers generated much concern in the community, concerns that were “totally understandable and should be properly addressed”. He added that any suspected case of infringement deserves a “full and thorough investigation”, stressing that fundamental human rights — including the right to liberty and security of person — are guaranteed by the Basic Law.
However, Yuen also said that it is “not appropriate to jump to a conclusion [about the missing bookseller]”, given that the case is still under active investigation by the police.
Lee Bo, a shareholder in Causeway Bay Books, went missing on December 30. The bookstore is well-known among mainland tourists as a source for political titles banned in China. Four other members of staff from the store have been missing since October of last year.
XL rail customs arrangement ‘inevitable’
Yuen also said he was aware that people have been drawing a link between the missing booksellers and the politically sensitive co-location arrangement for the high-speed railway. The co-location arrangement would allow China to set up checkpoints and enforce laws at the high-speed railway’s West Kowloon terminus. Yuen met Beijing officials in November last year to discuss the arrangement; he remarked afterwards that mainland oversight of the checkpoint is “inevitable”.
“Let me reiterate that any future co-location arrangement will be devised in strict compliance with the Basic Law and the spirit of the ‘one country, two systems’ policy, so that the fundamental rights of Hong Kong people will be fully respected,” he said.
Regarding the Law Society’s earlier announcement of the new Common Entrance Examination for prospective solicitors, Yuen said that the public interest should be considered when making changes to legal education and training.
“After all, the legal profession is not a business but a vocation, and it exists to serve the community and to be a gatekeeper of the rule of law,” he said.