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Hong Kong moves to decolonise by striking British laws and references from the statutes

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The government in Hong Kong has moved to “decolonise” by striking all British laws from the stature books.

According to the South China Morning Post on Monday, December 5 the former colony will also remove all references to the crown from its statutes and laws.

The desire to rid the statute books of the region’s colonial history follows an outpouring of grief and respect when Queen Elizabeth II, the former head of the colony, died earlier this year.

Maggie Chan Man-ki, Legislator and Local Deputy to the National People’s Congress, decried the existence of British laws saying it was unacceptable that some statutes still made references to British rule.

She added that new legislation and bills to amend existing laws will be introduced in the 2023 / 2024 legislative session.

As an example, she cited the Crimes Ordinance in which “Assaults on the Queen” is stated as an offence saying “It is an insult to our constitution.

“Why can we not remove it from the ordinance? What difficulties are there?”

Priscilla Leung Mei-fun a fellow legislator said: “Some people may think that Hong Kong has still not returned to China when they read our law books.”

Members of the Basic Law Committee under the National People’s Congress Standing Committee have said that it is evident from the anti-government protests in 2014 and 2019, that many people had not fully understood the post-handover constitutional order.

They said more public education was needed, but legislator Doreen Kong Yuk-foon questioned the rationale behind the “easy-issues-first” approach.

She said changing those laws that are easier to adapt might not necessarily be important laws or of concern to people. But others have said adapting some laws is a complex issue around which more consultation within government will be needed.

Colonial terms are, however, not believed to be a hindrance to the implementation of Hong Kong laws with the Interpretation and General Clauses Ordinance providing a way around the issue.

That ordinance says that any reference in any provision to Her Majesty, the Crown, the British government or the Secretary of State should be construed as a reference to the authorities of the People’s Republic of China, depending on the context, and that any reference to a government agency which bears a name which includes the word “Royal” should be read as if the word “Royal” were omitted.

The Law Reform Commission Secretariat says there are over 1,100 bilingual ordinances in the country, and that are regularly making changes to keep them up to date. They add that they also looking to make these clearer and to remove inconsistencies and ambiguities.

With British rule now decades in the past it would seem normal for Hong Kong to move to decolonise by striking British laws from the statutes.


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Peter McLaren-Kennedy

Originally from South Africa, Peter is based on the Costa Blanca and is a web reporter for the Euro Weekly News covering international and Spanish national news. Got a news story you want to share? Then get in touch at editorial@euroweeklynews.com.



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