Geoffrey Ma, Hong Kong’s Chief Justice, waited awhile but eventually spoke up on the issue of judicial independence. Although he did not directly address the National People’s Congress Standing Committee’s remarks, made last week, he made clear that he was taking a stand against anyone who sought to challenge the judiciary’s independence. It took him five days to do so, but supporters of the rule of law will undoubtedly say it was better late than never.
This was important for Hong Kong to hear. The NPCSC’s remarks, which had focused on the High Court’s ruling that the government’s face-mask ban was unconstitutional, needed to be rebutted. And not by anyone. It needed to come from Ma.
This is partly because the other person who would normally be expected to stand up for the integrity of the city’s justice system has been literally missing in action. The Justice Secretary was the target today of a withering critique by SCMP columnist Alice Wu, which needs no elaboration.
Will this be enough to close the Pandora’s Box that was opened by the NPCSC’s remarks? Will everyone be able to simply forget that statement ever came out? That might be the best way forward. Let’s see.