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【退休致詞全文】終院法官鄧國楨:籲培養有利法治氛圍 讓選票發揮作用 勿放棄低估自己力量

2018/10/22 — 18:57

鄧國楨

鄧國楨

編按:終審法院為即將退休的常任法官鄧國楨,舉行退休告別儀式。鄧國楨致詞時提到,本港司法獨立和維護法治的工作必須依賴本港法官,認為社會對法官的信心一旦失卻,將無法挽回。他指,認為社會應給予法官全面而徹底的支持,「自由的代價是要時刻保持警覺。更重要的是,永遠不要放棄或低估自己的力量。如果我們整體社會堅持維護法治,無人可以輕易把它奪走。千萬不要讓此事變得輕而易舉。」

鄧國楨又強調,在香港擁有新聞自由及選舉自由,必須努力發聲,「讓你的選票發揮作用」。

終審法院首席法官、前終審法院首席法官李國能、法律政策專員、大律師公會主席、律師會會長:

1. 感謝各位的溢美言詞。我明白傳統上都會對有關人士美言一番,我亦有此心理準備,但你們的誇贊和美言仍令我深受感動。

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2. 今天下午,一衆朋友、親人、同事和業界成員濟濟一堂,你們的到臨亦令我深受感動。

3. 我在法律界接近半個世紀,在最後的十四年擔任法官,如果說我對於離開沒有傷感,那並非事實。雖然這一天終於到來,但想起張舉能法官將會繼任時,我也感到安慰。

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4. 在事業上,我一直蒙恩。我當見習大律師時遇上了任憑誰人都夢寐以求的「 師傅」。自此以後,我一直力求達到已故韋文南先生的高水平。第一天的實習大律師工作,至今仍然記憶猶新;當時韋文南先生由御用大律師張奧偉帶領,後者對我的人生亦有著重大的幫助和影響。

5. 在大律師生涯當中,我也是幸運的,因爲我得到很多朋友和同事的幫助,並靠著對法治及公義將最終得勝的信念支持著我繼續走下去。我必須感謝當年我還是以代訟人身分出庭時,衆多法官對我的包容和耐性。我得承認,作爲一位代訟人,我確實是難纏的。要是我作爲法官,能夠像當年我在庭上遇到的衆多法官一樣行止端方,我將會是一位出色的法官。遺憾的是,我做不到。因此我藉這個機會,向我的同事和曾在我席前出庭的代訟人,對於我的不耐煩和偶爾(我希望只是偶爾)的無禮,表示歉意。

6. 不論在司法機構還是私人執業,我都得到很多的幫助。他們人數衆多,難以逐一點名致意。我只會提及幾位與我共事日子最長的人士。我在終審法院的秘書,李惠如女士 (Mendy Lee),她既善良又會關心他人。我的書記,林英琪女士 (Ingrid Lam),她自上訴法庭開始一直協助我,除了照顧一對可愛的雙生女兒外,還要處理我的工作。陳玉興女 士 (May Chan),May 姐,感謝她的幫助和善心。我的司機,王嘉興先 生 (Wong Ka Hing),一直無間斷的爲我提供有用的資訊。我亦必須一提,劉竹筠女士 (Agatha Lau),她是我多年的私人秘書,我開始擔任法官之後,她仍然兼職幫助我。我的新辦公室能夠準備就緒,她有很大的功勞。她將繼續協助籌劃我新的事業。

7. 最重要的是,在個人生活方面,我是幸運的。我一直被愛圍繞著。我的父母愛我至深。我的父親一直支持我,我的母親對我有著無法解釋的信心。我的兄弟姐妹和他們的家人都愛護我。可以到來的,今天都來了。

8. 遇到我的太太,林勁思 (Cissy),是我人生中最美好的事情。她的愛、關懷、支持和坦誠的批評,一直是我人生的支柱。我不曉得沒了她我會怎樣。我實在是幸運兒。

9. 我們的兒女,Hilary 和 Charles,正在放期中假,今天也有到來。他們今年十四歲,快樂、善良、有愛心、善解人意,明白事理,亦是好學生。功勞必須完全歸於 Cissy,這不單因爲她以子女爲先,置個人執業於後,還把她的價值觀灌輸給他們。我倆爲 他們感到驕傲。現在,他們於寄宿學校讀書,Cissy 可以再次盡展所長。

10. 我擔任法官至今十四年多,最後六年是在終審法院。在整段日子,我都享受我的工作,但最後的六年是特別的。除了因爲終審法院作爲香港最高級法院有其重要性之外,我亦非常享受與來自其他普通法適用地區的法官共事。來自海外的非常任法官帶來他們豐富的經驗和專門的知識。他們協助確保香港的普通法必須按照本地情況發展,同時又能繼續以普通法的傳統作爲支柱。他們對香港的貢獻得到正確的肯定。他們的存在亦加强了大家對香港的司法獨立和法治的信心。

11. 廖柏嘉勳爵曾經把終審法院的海外非常任法官比喻爲煤礦中的金絲雀,我很同意。可是,請容我補充一點,金絲雀只能警示礦工,卻不能拯救他們。

12. 我相信司法獨立及維護法治的工作,必須依賴香港法官;我們責無旁貸。幸好,我們身爲香港法官,對自己的職責和責任均瞭如指掌。我們很清楚,社會對法官的信心一旦失卻,勢將無法挽回。我們深知法官必須獨立,並得以彰顯人前。我不久之前才剛卸任司法人員推薦委員會委員一職,明白到法官的委任是取決於其才能而非政治理由。

13. 在我退任終審法院常任法官的同時,我可以充滿信心及本著良知地說,香港擁有獨立的法官和穩健的法治。

14. 但這並不代表我們可以有所鬆懈。

15. 長久以來,我們生活在法治之下。人們常説法治是我們社會的基石,而我清楚知道,這並非空喊口號。法治極可能延續,但這決不能單憑法官之力來維護。

16. 這也不能依仗我們在香港實施普通法這事實。普通法同樣可被用作欺壓的工具。它是一種變化多端的權力,除非妥善地運用人權法加以適當控制,否則可被不當使用。

17. 因此,雖然法官決意維護法治,讓其在香港的價值及運用恒久不變,但關鍵在於社會對法官予以由衷的支持。

18. 那應是何等形式的支持?我認爲,應是全面而徹底的支持。

19. 如果法官受到不公的抨擊,請緊守立場並支持他們。可是,不要只因爲某些事件才對他們表示支持。那並不足夠,也可能已經太遲。大家應致力在社會上培養有利於法治的氛圍。我們在香港擁有新聞自由及選舉自由,必須努力發聲,讓你的選票發揮作用。請相信我,自由的代價是要時刻保持警覺。更重要的是,永遠不要放棄或低估自己的力量。如果我們整體社會堅持維護法治,無人可以輕易把它奪走。千萬不要讓此事變得輕而易舉。

20. 最後,我希望告訴大家,我的工作生活非常愉快,我對曾經幫助過我的人心存感激。因時間所限,我無法對他們一一道謝,但我把一切都銘記於心。我衷心感謝他們以及今天抽空到來的每一位,謝謝你們 。

Chief Justice, Chief Justice Li, Solicitor General, Chairman of the Bar and President of the Law Society,

1. Thank you for your kind and generous words. I know it is customary to speak well of the person concerned and I was expecting no less but your very kind and generous words touched me deeply.

2. I am also deeply touched by the presence, this afternoon, of so many friends, relatives, colleagues and members of the profession.

3. After almost a half century in the law, the last 14 of which as a judge, it would not be true if I tell you I do not feel sad at leaving. The time has come but I am comforted by the thought that Mr Justice Andrew Cheung will be taking over.

4. I have been blessed in my career. I had the best pupil master anyone could hope for. I have been trying ever since to live up to the high standard of the late Robert Wei. I still remember vividly, the first day of my pupillage, when Robert Wei was led by Oswald Cheung QC, another great help and influence in my life.

5. I was also lucky in my career at the Bar, helped by many friends and colleagues and by my belief in the rule of law and that justice will prevail, which sustained me. I must also thank the many judges before whom I appeared as advocate, for their tolerance and patience. I confess I must have been trying as an advocate. If only I, as judge, have behaved as well as many of the judges I had appeared before, I would have done well. Unfortunately, I couldn’t. So I take this opportunity to apologise to my colleagues and advocates who had appeared before me for my impatience and occasional, I hope, only occasional, rudeness.

6. I have had great help in the judiciary and in private practice. They are too many to name individually. I will mention only those who have been with me the longest. Mendy Lee, my secretary at the CFA, a kind and caring person. Ingrid Lam, my clerk, who came with me from the Court of Appeal, who has to take care of lovely twin daughters as well as to help me with my work. May Chan, Sister May, for her help and kindness. Wong Ka Hing, my driver, who is an unfailing source of useful information. I must also mention, Ms Agatha Lau, my personal secretary of many years, who continued to help me part time after I became a judge.

She has been a great help in getting my new office ready and will continue to help me in my new career.

7. Above all else, I have been lucky in my personal life, I have been surrounded by love. My parents loved me dearly. My father who always supported
me and my mother with her unreasoning faith in me. My brother and sisters and their families love me. Those who can, are here today.

8. My wife, Cissy, the best thing which has ever happened to me. Her love, care, support and honest criticism have been the mainstay of my life. I dont
know what I will do without her. Luckily, we don’t have to deserve our good fortune.

9. Our children, Hilary and Charles who are here today on their half-term. They are 14. They are happy, kind, loving, caring, thoughtful and sensible. They are also good students. Cissy must take all the credit, not least, because, she gave them priority over her practice and imbued them with her values. We are very proud of them. Now that they are in boarding school, Cissy is in full swing again.

10. I have been a judge for some 14 years, the last 6 in the CFA. I enjoyed them all, but the last 6 was special. Apart from its importance, being the highest court in the land, I also greatly enjoyed sitting with judges from other common law jurisdictions. Overseas NPJs bring with them great experience and specialist knowledge. They also help to ensure that whilst the common law in Hong Kong must develop according to local circumstances, we remained anchored in the common law tradition. Their contribution to Hong Kong is rightly acknowledged.
Their presence also bolsters confidence in the independence of the judiciary and the rule of law in Hong Kong.

11. Lord Neuberger of Abbotsbury has likened overseas NPJs to canaries in coal mines. I agree. However, I might add canaries can warn but cannot save the miners.

12. I believe the independence of the judiciary and maintenance of the rule of law must depend on the local judges. The buck must stop at us. Happily, we, the Hong Kong judges are fully aware of our duties and responsibilities. We are aware that faith in the judiciary once lost, can never be regained. We know we must be independent and be seen to be independent. I was until recently a member of the Judicial Officers Recommendation Commission so I know that judges are chosen on merit and not for political reasons.

13. As I retire from being a permanent judge, I can say with confidence and in good conscience, judges are independent and the rule of law is strong in Hong Kong.

14. But that does not mean we should let our guards down.

15. We have lived under the rule of law for a long time. It is often said the rule of law lies at the core of our society and I know that is not a mere slogan. The odds are good but judges cannot do it all on their own.

16. Nor is the fact that we use the common law in Hong Kong enough. Common law can be used oppressively. It is protean power, unless adequately controlled by the proper application of human rights law, can be misused.

17. I therefore say, although judges are prepared to uphold the rule of law as it has always been understood and applied in Hong Kong, the community must be willing to support them.

18. In what form the support should take? I think the support should be all embracing.

19. If the judiciary is unfairly attacked, you should hold firm and stand up for them. But, support should not only be events driven. That is not enough. It may be too late. You should endeavour to nurture an atmosphere friendly to the rule of law. We have a free press and free elections in Hong Kong. Make your voice heard and your vote count. Believe me, the price of freedom is indeed eternal vigilance. Above all else, do not give up or underestimate your strength. If we as a community insist on the rule of law, it cannot be taken from us easily. Do not make it easy.

20. As this draws to an end, I want to say how happy I have been in my career. How grateful I am to all those who have helped me. Time does not permit individual acknowledgment but they have not been forgotten, to each and all, and to you who are here today, a big thank you.

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