Friday, 15 June 2018

West Kowloon Rail Checkpoint is a Slippery Slope

The West Kowloon Rail station will be ready by the third quarter this year
After numerous discussions, debates and filibusters, the controversial border check point at the new West Kowloon rail terminal was passed last night at the Legislative Council. The so-called co-location bill went through following a 40-20 vote.

This means mainland Chinese immigration officials will have the authority to assert mainland laws on a part of Hong Kong soil.

While some believe this is the best way to solve the problem of having border checks in one location, this is technically a violation of the Basic Law according to lawyers at the Hong Kong Bar Association.

Debates about the issue were overturned by pro-establishment
That's because the Basic Law states no mainland law shall apply in Hong Kong except those relating to defence, foreign affairs and "other matters outside the limits" of the city's autonomy.

Any exceptions must be listed in Annexe III of the Basic Law before they can be applied.

However, the National People's Congress Standing Committee ignored this important procedure and endorsed the legal foundation for the checkpoint plan late last year, which resulted in pan-democratic Hong Kong lawmakers opposing the bill.

More than 70 amendments were submitted to Legco in a bid to delay Thursday's vote.

To counter the filibustering by the pan-democrats, Legco President Andrew Leung Kwan-yuen capped debate time for the bill at 36 hours to ensure it would be passed before the legislature's summer break in mid-July. He also only allowed 24 of the amendments to be debated.

Legco President Andrew Leung limited debate on the issue
Now that this major hurdle has been cleared, the station can be completed and apparently will be in operation by the third quarter this year.

Civic Party lawmaker Alvin Yeung Ngok-kiu said the vote had opened a Pandora's box to further unconstitutional arrangements being imposed on Hong Kong.

"Its passage comes not only at the cost of our core value of the rule of law, but it also shows people the legislature is only a rubber stamp," said unionist lawmaker Leung Yiu-chung.

This was a contentious issue because it is about a lack of trust of China and what it will do next. It really does signal the start of a slippery slope that none of us knows will go next... except maybe Beijing.

We can only continue to safeguard whatever rights and freedoms we have left...

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