Henry Litton, QC writes on Hong Kong (received via WhatsApp)…

前高等法院英女王御用大律師,Henry Litton (列顕倫)* QC ;給香港市民的一封信:~

Henry Litton (列顕倫)* QC was the Judge of the highest Court in Hong Kong. He retired in 2015.


The following is what he’s written…


There are few certainties in life. One of them is this: The common law system underpinning Hong Kong’s “core values” is destined to expire in 27 years’ time. The One Country Two Systems formula was designed to last for 50 years and no more. Hence Article 5 of the Basic Law. There is no mechanism in the Basic Law for the system to continue beyond 30 June 2047.


All the calls for Freedom, Democracy etc have no meaning if the common law crumbles.


If the protesters truly value their professed aims, *their focus should be on demonstrating to Beijing and to the rest of the world that the One Country Two Systems formula works, and to promote an atmosphere in which Beijing feels comfortable with the system – and when the time comes, to extend the Basic Law for another 50 years, 100 years*. Then liberal democratic norms and values might have a chance to flourish.

如果抗議者真的誠心誠意的重視他們宣稱的目標,*他們的重點、重心,應該是向北京和世界其他地方展示“一國兩制”的方案是有效的,並推展“一國兩制”的成功實施。令北京對這一制度感到寛心舒泰的環境下 – 當時機成熟時,說服北京將“基本法”再延長50年,100年*。那麼,自由、民主的模式、準則和價值觀還可能有延續蓬勃、活躍的機會。

Crunch time is not 27 years away. It is just round the corner. For Hong Kong to continue as one of the world’s greatest financial and trading centres, planning for the future must necessarily look 20 -30 years ahead. So the hard question will soon be asked: is the common law system to continue beyond June 2047 ? The answer lies in Beijing and nowhere else.


The last time this issue arose – back in 1982 – Hong Kong had the backing of Great Britain. This time Hong Kong stands alone. And, up to this point, Hong Kong has demonstrated for all the world to see that the One Country Two Systems formula is extremely fragile: and, if the unrest continues, it would surely fracture beyond any hope of recall.


It is beyond the power of the Hong Kong SAR government to devise the governing model for the future. Pressing the Hong Kong government to promote greater democracy is futile. Rightly or wrongly, that power lies in Beijing. Nowhere else. Hong Kong enjoys freedoms found nowhere else in China. To think that unlawful assemblies and demonstrations, and violence in the streets, would soften Beijing’s attitude towards Hong Kong is absurd. Common sense suggests it would have the opposite effect.


But there are deep social issues which the SAR government can redress, having regard in particular to the huge foreign currency reserves it holds:USD425 billion – by far the largest in the world, enough to guarantee public servants’ pensions hundreds of times over. And yet Hong Kong’s social services are crumbling, hospitals are understaffed, public education is poor, teachers are ill-paid, young people cannot afford to rent even the most substandard apartment, the gap between rich and poor is ever-widening.

但是,有一些深層次的社會問題是特區政府可以解決的,特別是考慮到特區政府擁有世界上最龐大的外匯儲備:4,250億美元 – 是政府公務員的長俸所需要的保證金額的數以百倍。然而,香港的社會服務卻每況愈下,醫院人手不足,全民所需的教育不論在質素及資源都極差,教師薪酬偏低。年輕人怎都難以負擔租用即使是最不合標準的居所,社會上,貧富差距在不斷拉大。

The laissez-faire policy of the colonial government has been carried to extremes by the SAR government in the past 20-odd years. The rich have prospered in the meanwhile whilst the bulk of the people suffered. The influx of Mainlanders under the One-Way Permit system has caused great strain on all services. The people’s needs have been neglected. The young see little prospect of a fulfilling future and even university graduates find difficulty in meaningful employment.


These, I suggest, are the deep-seated ills which sustain the fire of discontent in the wider community, and bring hundreds of thousands to march in the streets. These are not matters which a commission of inquiry can resolve.


The media here is full of Hong Kong stories, and of course footage of the riotous behaviour on the streets: what empty slogans, meaningless rhetoric the protesters display ……….In watching these events I am reminded of the prayer attributed to Saint Francis:


Pray God give me the courage to change the things I can change, the fortitude to bear the things I cannot change, and the wisdom to know the difference.


I arrive in Hong Kong Thursday 24 October, staying for one month.


As ever



PS Please feel free to convey these observations to anyone you chose ………….They are *not confidential*.




This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s