Hong Kong and the Common Law
Under One Country Two Systems, Hong Kong is supposed to be run under the British Common Law and Equity system.
One major advantage of Common Law and Equity jurisdictions is the importance of the Rule Of Law and the domestic peace and security that private and corporate citizens enjoy in such jurisdictions. This allows for the efficient creation of wealth and the prosperity evident in many of countries operating under this system, such as the UK, USA, Canada, Australia, Singapore etc.
Since the middle of the 12th century when Henry II pacified Britain, the keeping of the King’s Peace has been Job 1 for those exercising political power in Common Law and Equity jurisdictions. Any Governor-General, including Chris Patton, who had allowed the descent into anarchy that we are witnessing today in Hong Kong would have been swiftly removed and replaced by someone who understood their primary responsibility was maintaining the peace of the realm.
In a functioning Common Law jurisdiction people do not get publicly burnt alive for expressing a dissenting opinion.
In a functioning Common Law jurisdiction businesses that are set up and functioning according to the law are not subject to vandalism and arson, regardless of whether they are owned by Chinese or Martians.
In a functioning Common Law jurisdiction people are not allowed to rampage through the land committing arson, destroying public and private property, assaulting police officers and terrorizing ordinary citizens who disagree with their views.
In the UK today, citizens are divided and have extremely strongly held views regarding Brexit versus Remain, yet we have not seen the kind of behavior that we are now witnessing in Hong Kong. Peaceful demonstrations are protected in Common Law jurisdictions. Anarchy however, is suppressed. It is either ignorance or hypocrisy for those who support the violence of the protesters to speak of The Rule Of Law.
Several of the foundations upon which Hong Kong’s prosperity has been built have now been severely and perhaps fatally undermined.
● Hong Kong is currently the primary banking jurisdiction for exchanging offshore Renmimbi. This is done using licenses issued by Beijing and earns Hong Kong billions annually. Beijing is now issuing these licenses to Macau.
● Hong Kong usually has massive tourism earnings; the largest segment of which comes from Mainland Chinese visitors who spent the equivalent of 135 Billion United States Dollars in Hong Kong in 2018. Tourism from Mainland China and elsewhere has shriveled to the point that several popular hotels are operating with occupancy levels below 10%.
● The majority of people using Hong Kong’s airport are doing business with Mainland China. Travel through the airport is now at the whim of protesters with a resultant sharp decline in visitors. The airport normally contributes 200,000 jobs to Hong Kong’s economy.
● The majority of cargo shipped to and from Hong Kong’s ports concerns Mainland China. Alternative ports exist a few of hours sailing away in Shenzhen and other parts of Guangdong Province.
It is ironic that the authorities have allowed the situation to deteriorate by neglecting the central principle of a Common Law and Equity jurisdiction…maintaining the peace of the realm. It is by truly practising One Country Two Systems that the present situation can be resolved.
If the present Chief Executive does not have the will or courage to carry out her duties as head of the government of a Common Law jurisdiction then she should resign and let someone who is willing to do what is necessary take the reins.
*This article does not represent Malaysia Dateline’s stand