Saturday, September 19, 2015

Michael Davis on the Separation of Powers Debate in Hong Kong (SCMP)

"Separation of powers is already a fact of life in Hong Kong"
Michael Davis
South China Morning Post
19 September 2015
Zhang Xiaoming , head of the central government's liaison office in Hong Kong, caused quite a stir when he proclaimed that the city's executive-led government does not have separation of powers and that the chief executive is superior to the other two branches of government. He claimed that having three branches of government - the executive, legislative and judiciary - with each checking and balancing the other, did not amount to separation of powers. He also doubted separation of powers could apply to a sub-national government.
     One can speculate on what Zhang was attempting to achieve, but when it comes to his legal analysis, he is clearly confused. Zhang's claim that the Hong Kong system has never been characterised by separation of powers is simply false. His own recital of a dozen Basic Law provisions that afford oversight of one branch of the Hong Kong government over the others in a web of checks and balances belies such a claim.
     Indeed, contrary to his statement, when you have the three branches of government and each checks and balances the other, then you have separation of powers. That is quite literally the definition of separation of power originating in the writings of Montesquieu in the classic The Spirit of the Laws...  Click here to read the full article.

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