HK lawyer tries to derail South China Sea arbitration court ruling with last minute filing
By Raïssa Robles
In recent days, articles on the South China Sea dispute have been appearing in various newspapers abroad, including the South China Morning Post (HK)
My hubby’s opinion piece came out late Thursday in SCMP.
Alan explored the possible impact of a Duterte presidency on a ruling by the tribunal:
A bilateral approach will get the Philippines nowhere in its South China Sea dispute with China
Alan Robles says by seemingly cosying up to China, incoming Philippine president Rodrigo Duterte appears willing to ignore carefully nurtured friendships in the region in favour of a relationship that can hardly be equal
Any time within the next month, the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague is expected to hand down a judgment on the Philippine position on the South China Sea. Experts believe the decision will largely uphold Manila’s case.
Such a ruling would mark a victory for the multilateral diplomacy and “lawfare” waged by the government of President Benigno Aquino. But there’s a hitch: the decision will fall squarely in the lap of Rodrigo Duterte, who will be inaugurated as president on June 30. And the tough-talking populist doesn’t look like he knows what to do with the ruling.
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Beijing is trying another trick up its sleeve.
Hong Kong’s former solicitor general Daniel Fung Wah-kin SC has asked the the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague to throw the Philippine case by submitting, out of the blue, a 41-page legal brief.
Besides claiming that the Philippine suit had factual and legal errors, the brief insisted it was outside the court’s jurisdiction.
Fung claimed to represent (as chairman) a legal organization in Hong Kong called the Asia-Pacific Institute of International Law.
However, The News Lens, a news website based in Taiwan, noted that Fung’s organization was incorporated in Hong Kong only on April 19, 2016 under the name “Asia Pacific Institute of International Law Limited”. It changed its name to the present one last June 6 – on the same day Fung submitted the brief as amicus curiae or friend of the court.
News Lens also noted Fung’s closeness to Beijing. Since 2003, Fung has been a “national delegate” to the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC). China’s national legislature, the National People’s Congress, defines CPPCC as “an organization of the patriotic United Front of the Chinese people”.
Fung has had a checkered career. He was once Hong Kong’s solicitor general under Chris Patten, the last Governor of the British Crown Colony of Hong Kong. He is a specialist in China-US relations particularly its military aspects. He took up law at the the University College London.
However, in 2007, he was accused of “professional misconduct” and it took some time to rule on his case because it was difficult to find a barrister who would join the Barristers Disciplinary Tribunal Panel. Fung simply had too many friends.
Finally in 2010 he was was fined HK$300,000 for “failing to inform the Court of Appeal in 2015 about clauses of a legislative provision that were unfavorable to his client, Hong Kong Island Development, in a tenancy lawsuit.”