Secretary for Justice Rimsky Yuen has hailed the role of the English language in maintaining Hong Kong’s success and its rule of law.
RTHK reported that Yuen emphasised the status of English as an officially-recognised language guaranteed under the Basic Law – the city’s mini-constitution.
Yuen was speaking as a guest on Saturday at the Hong Kong English Public Speaking Contest for secondary school students, organised by NGO Hong Kong Federation of Youth Groups.
He added that Hong Kong could no longer remain an international city if its citizens were not good English speakers.
“English is of course crucial in maintaining our common law system, which is again another key ingredient in the recipe for Hong Kong’s success,” he said.
“The common law system is crucial in guaranteeing and upholding our rule of law.”
English and foreigners under fire
Yuen’s comments come as pro-Beijing activists increasingly call upon Hong Kong judges to speak and issue court judgements in Chinese, criticising the inclusion of foreigners in the city’s judiciary.
Last month, the convener of pro-Beijing forum Voice of Loving Hong Kong Patrick Ko said that English-language speeches at the opening ceremony of every legal year demonstrated a lack of respect towards the “One Country, Two Systems” policy, which guarantees the city’s autonomy within China.
Beijing law professor Tian Feilong also wrote in local newspaper Ming Pao that the development of Hong Kong’s judiciary and legal education system is mature enough so that “the number of foreign judges can be gradually decreased and their hiring can even be halted.”