The Straits Times
Published on Dec 13, 2012

Hong Kong lawyers warn against Chinese role in courts


HONG KONG (REUTERS) - Lawyers and opposition politicians in Hong Kong warned on Thursday against what they termed Chinese interference in a legal case that they say could undermine the independence of the judiciary in the financial hub.

The controversy over the court case is the latest in a string of issues that has raised tension between China and the free-wheeling former British territory that was promised autonomy when it returned to Chinese rule 15 years ago.

The latest furore concerns the Hong Kong government's proposal to ask its highest court to seek Beijing's interpretation of a case to determine whether about 300,000 foreign domestic helpers are entitled to the right of abode.

Lawyers, pro-democracy members of Hong Kong's assembly and legal scholars are outraged by the government's proposal, not so much because they fear for the rights of domestic workers, but because they object to a committee of China's parliament making decisions for the city.