Following is the transcript of a stand-up session by the Permanent Secretary for Housing, Planning and Lands (Planning and Lands), Mrs Carrie Lam, in response to the decision by The Society for Protection of the Harbour (Society) to appeal against the High Court's judgment in relation to the Central Reclamation Phase III (CRIII) project today (March 26):
Reporter: The Society has accused the Government of stalling by refusing them to leapfrog ... ?
Mrs Lam: We are certainly disappointed to hear about The Society for Protection of the Harbour's decision to appeal against the High Court's decision regarding the judicial review on the CRIII. I notice they have mentioned that we have refused to give consent for them to appeal direct to the Court of Final Appeal (CFA). I wish to make it very clear here that according to the Hong Kong Court of Final Appeal Ordinance, there are very stringent requirements governing under what sort of criteria could an appeal be made direct to the CFA.
Indeed since 1997, there has only been one case of such leapfrogging to the CFA and that concerned the draft Wan Chai OZP. After the High Court's judicial review, both parties agreed that because of the interpretation of Section 3 of the Protection of Harbour Ordinance, it meets the criteria under the Hong Kong Court of Final Appeal Ordinance. So both parties agreed to take the case direct to the Court of Final Appeal. Subsequently, the Appeal Committee of the Court of Final Appeal agreed there was a law of principle that meets the criteria.
In this particular case, we have sought the advice of the Department of Justice and also independent advice from an outside Senior Counsel. The advice we were given is we can see no reason why the Society's case could meet the criteria under the Court of Final Appeal Ordinance. It is not a matter of either our prejudice or we want to be difficult, but we simply are unable to consent because that does not meet the criteria. Perhaps that would not be fair to the CFA.
Reporter: Will works . . . in the meantime?
Mrs Lam: We have announced on March 9 after the High Court has handed down the judgment that we will fully resume works. On the same day, we have already instructed the contractor to start remobilizing in order to recommence the works as soon as possible. Since March 9, in fact part of the earlier suspended marine works have been resumed. We do expect that by early to mid-April, all the previously suspended works would be resumed.
(Please also refer to the Chinese portion of the transcript)
Ends/Friday, March 26, 2004