• 愛國有違法|戴啟思
  • 2020-11-22    

  • 愛國有違法|戴啟思

 

Patriotism



'Patriot'- A person devoted to his or her country; a person (claiming to be) ready to support or defend his or her country's freedoms and rights.'

Shorter Oxford English Dictionary

Scarcely a week goes by without being surprised by statements coming from the Mainland authorities alerting us to hidden legal nuggets in the Basic Law that have escaped our attention for over twenty years.

You will know some of them by now: the right of some Central People's Government bodies located here to interfere in Hong Kong affairs; the absence of a separation of powers framework in the Basic Law; the Chief Executive's ability to bypass specific provisions in the Basic Law for disqualifying Legislative Council members.

The latest came last Tuesday. The Secretary of Justice helped organise a legal seminar about the Basic Law with the theme 'Back to Basics'. The symposium aimed to notify participants that they may have to recalibrate their (mis)understanding of the Basic Law.

One of the legal requirements buried in the text of the Basic Law but now uncovered and brought into the light of day was Patriotism.

Mr Zhang Xiaoming, the deputy director of the State Council's Hong Kong and Affairs Office, said that Patriotism was one of the core values of Hong Kong and was just as important, if not more so than democracy, freedom and human rights.

He echoed the language of the great statesman, Deng Xiaoping who formulated the "one country, two systems" idea, and who had said at the time of the Joint Declaration back in 1984 that Hong Kong needed to be governed by 'patriots'.

At this point, it necessary to define terms. A 'patriot' is a person devoted to his or her country and should be ready to defend it and its interests.

A foreign national living in a country may have great affection for the country and identify with its values. Still, the foreign national not a 'patriot' because duties of allegiance are owed to a different state.

The only way for a foreign national to become a patriot of a host country is for him or her to go through a process of expatriation and become if the other state approves, a national of that other country.

This emphasis on Patriotism in the deputy was disconcerting. I had always assumed that Deng Xiaoping's words were about the provisions for public service in Annex 1 of the Joint Declaration, which sets out China's 'Basic Policies regarding Hong Kong'.

The relevant part of Annex 1 says that foreign nationals could continue to serve in the Hong Kong Government and could be recruited for posts in the future. The only qualification was that they could no longer serve as heads of major government departments and as deputy heads in some of those departments.

The Central Authorities reserved these posts for Chinese nationals. Otherwise, the idea was, in words used in Annex 1, that 'the Government and legislature of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region shall be composed of local inhabitants'.

By reserving these senior positions to Chinese nationals, the Central Authorities would achieve Deng Xiaoping's goal of having patriots run Hong Kong because the critical decision-makers-Chinese nationals- would occupy them. Foreigners-by definition, non-patriots-would only put those decisions into effect.

The Basic Law implemented Annex 1. It spelt out what would be the arrangements for seeing that foreign nationals could serve in the Hong Kong Government, the Legislature and the Judiciary. Article 67 of the Basic Law is noteworthy given the recent disqualifications of four lawmakers for being disloyal.

It says that the Legislative Council shall be composed of permanent residents with no right of abode in any foreign country which means, basically, Chinese nationals. However, the provision goes on to say that permanent residents who are not Chinese nationals and who have a right of abode elsewhere, may be elected to the Council. Still, the proportion of such members must not exceed 20 per cent of the total membership of the Council.

The concern must be that attempt to instil Patriotism in the Government. It will upset the balance in the Basic Law that currently sees patriots at the top of Government departments, the Judiciary and the Legislative Council since 80 per cent of members will be Chinese nationals but suffers non-Chinese permanent residents to participate in those bodies.

If, as seems likely, the Government will introduce legislative and other measures to instil Patriotism-the love of the country-the danger is that such actions will create a dilemma for foreign nationals.

Suppose the official oath that is required from judges, legislators and senior government officials is revised to require formal allegiance to the People's Republic Of China and not just to the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region. In that case, some permanent residents who are foreign nationals and have served Hong Kong well, will not be able to take it as a matter of conscience.

This happening would, in my view, as a foreign national, be a great pity. It might also be a breach of the Basic Law an excessive dose of Patriotism goes against its provisions which implement China's Basic Policies in the Joint Declaration.

Those Basic Policies in the Joint Declaration are still significant. The Preamble to the Basic Law-a formal introduction to the legal text that follows it-says that China's policies about Hong Kong are elaborated in the Joint Declaration and are in the Basic Law. Article 159 of the Basic Law stipulates that there can be no amendment to it which contravenes those 'established basic policies'. It is not a patriotic act to breach the Basic Law.

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