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Florinda Chan denies judicial aid bill contravenes Basic Law

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The Secretary for Administration and Justice, Florinda Chan said yesterday that the judicial aid bill strictly complied with the Basic Law and the Legislation Law, brushing off legal counsellors’ concerns that the controversial bill may contravene the laws.
The second standing committee of the Legislative Assembly (AL) yesterday continued their deliberation on the details of the new bill. Florinda Chan, after attending the meeting with committee members, told media that the government drafted every law extremely carefully. She said every law or regulation was drafted by legal experts in the Justice department, in strict compliance with not just Basic Law but also other laws and regulations, including the Legislative Law.
In the committee’s meeting earlier this month, some legal counsellors expressed their concerns that the judicial aid might contravene the Basic Law, a view that added fuel to the long-running dispute with the government.
The legal experts said the draft law carries many ambiguities and the criteria for receiving aid and the composition of the new commission in charge of reviewing requests should be clearly stipulated in the law instead of being left to a bylaw or dispatch.
But Florinda Chan stressed that these technical issues were actually not related to Basic Law and the authority’s objective to draft the new law was actually to meet Article 36 of Basic Law, which guarantees that the financially underprivileged people have equal judiciary protection as others.
Chan said the contents of the bill as well as the government’s approach to enact it are strictly in line with the Basic Law and the Legislative Law.
“We put the bill to the Legislative Assembly for approval on 18th January in accordance with the legislative requirements,” she said. As to the committee’s concern that more precise details were needed for the criteria of receiving the aid, Chan said the government accepted these views and would seek to finalise the requirements such as the income limit for receiving judiciary aid.
Chan Chak Mo, president of the second standing committee left the AL building after the meeting, without briefing the media as usual.

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