Heritage warns over HK legal system; Lam rejects criticism

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Hong Kong may have topped the Heritage Foundation's global Index of Economic Freedom for the 25th consecutive year, but the think-tank warned of a perception problem over the SAR's legal system -- with Hong Kong dropping level with the Mainland in the scoring of "judicial effectiveness."

The foundation announced the 2019 results at the newly refurbished AmCham offices yesterday, lauding Hong Kong for its resilient economy, light regulatory touch, low taxes and defense of property rights, among other measures. 

While the judiciary is independent, however, "Beijing reserves the right to make final interpretations of the Basic Law, effectively limiting the power of Hong Kong’s Court of Final Appeal," Heritage said.

In a meeting with Heritage founder Edwin Feulner, Chief Executive Carrie Lam rejected the criticism, arguing that the central government’s power to interpret the Basic Law had helped to ensure Hong Kong’s prosperity since it was returned from British to Chinese rule in 1997, the SCMP reported.