Dialogues with young lawyers

Young people are the future masters of our society, their visions are important to us. The Hong Kong Law Society earlier arranged a group of young lawyers to meet with me in two evenings. In the two-hour meetings with a small group of some 10 or 20 lawyers, we had a very frank and sincere conversation on the current situation in Hong Kong and the initiatives of this year’s policy address.

It is utmost important to take into account the views from the youth when we are thinking about how to ride out the storm. I explained to them the Government’s position in the meetings. Some of them shared a similar view with the Government but some took a different stance. I appreciated their thoughts which I would explore further with my colleagues. Although it is unlikely that a single meeting will give to an instant solution, I think it does provide a basis for the Government to formulate policies in future in a bid to finding a way out.

I also took the opportunity to give them a brief introduction on our initiatives in this year’s policy address. The initiatives under the purview of the Department of Justice were indeed submitted to the Chief Executive for consideration after we had consulted the legal sector. This reflected that we attached great importance to the suggestions made by different sectors in the community. I wish that those from the legal sector can frankly let me know their views when we have the chance to meet in future. I will do my best to put any feasible suggestions into practice.

In the policy address, we plan to provide support for our legal talents to participate in international legal bodies such as the Hague Conference on Private International Law and UNCITRAL. We came up with this idea after hearing from the legal sector that our legal professionals should be encouraged to showcase our strengths in the legal service to the rest of the world. We will support them to take up important positions in renowned legal organisations. While they can experience for themselves different legal systems, I also wish that they can become Hong Kong’s ambassadors to promote our legal systems and competitive edges.

Another new initiative, “Vision 2030 for Rule of Law” is also in the pipeline. As a long term commitment, we aim to promote and reinforce the rule of law through academic and professional exchanges, research and capacity building. We have taken into account the views that more publicity has to be arranged to demonstrate the importance of the rule of law.

The Pilot Professional Exchange Programme mentioned in the policy address has been formally rolled out. We invite qualified lawyers to participate in a short attachment to the DoJ to facilitate exchanges of knowledge and experience with government counsel. This would help us keep abreast of developments in the legal industry. Reference was made to a proposal from a legal body when we formulated this programme. At the meetings with the young lawyers, I also encouraged them to take part in this exchange. More details can be found on the DoJ’s website: https://www.doj.gov.hk/en/miscellaneous/pep.html.

I am enthusiastic in continuing to meet with people from different sectors of the legal profession. While some may be skeptical about the effectiveness of having dialogues, I think it would be much more difficult in reaching a consensus in the absence of basic communication. The chaos has been going on for four months. I hope that violence could be stopped. I also look forward to engaging with the public in constructive dialogues to break the impasse.

October 28, 2019