'Occupy Central' tramples the rule of law, will destroy HK luster

Updated: 2013-05-29 06:52

By Yang Sheng(HK Edition)

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It is often said that if Hong Kong people have a defining ideology, it is the rule of law.

Any perceived threats to undermine it would face fierce counter-attacks and be condemned in our society that attaches utmost importance to the unyielding principle of law and order.

Rule of law is one of Hong Kong's greatest strengths, an integral part of the core values ingrained in Hong Kong people's psyche. It is the cornerstone for Hong Kong's many successes. History shows convincingly that the rule of law has played a pivotal role in facilitating the boosting of Hong Kong's economy, its entrance into the world market and transformation into a vibrant cosmopolitan city.

Most important of all, the rule of law is irreplaceable in ensuring a level playing field for all sectors of the society, safeguarding justice and protecting fellow citizens' freedoms and rights. It is a well-recognized fact that Hong Kong's rule of law is among the best in the world and all Hong Kong people should be proud of and cherish it wholeheartedly.

Unfortunately, "Occupy Central" runs counter to the rule of law, posing imminent harm. Tai Yiu-ting, a scholar in the field of constitutional laws, once summarized the merits of the rule of law, such as "having laws to follow", "abiding by every law there is", "limiting power with law", and "achieving justice with law". But when it comes to the "Occupy Central" campaign he leads, he sees not the slightest need to respect and obey the rule of law.

Under "One Country, Two Systems", Hong Kong has retained its Common-Law system, supplemented by local legislation, which enables the rule of law in the city to thrive and operate effectively. Furthermore, the Basic Law and relevant decisions of the National People's Congress Standing Committee (NPCSC) have clearly established the rules of procedure for selecting the chief executive by universal suffrage. Yet agitators of "Occupy Central" have chosen to ignore them by inciting a mass blockage plan, which will viciously breach the Public Order Ordinance and other relevant laws.

Despite the fact there is no universal format for the implementation of universal suffrage, "Occupy Central" is aimed at achieving the organizers' imagined result by illegal means. An opinion poll among businesses in Hong Kong conducted last month showed 21.7 percent of the respondents believe "Occupy Central" "completely violates" the rule of law, while 60.9 percent find it "somewhat counter" to the rule of law. This survey clearly indicates the vast majority of the public wouldn't endorse a plan that breaks the law.

Whatever the reason, no one in society should override other's will and trample the law. If "Occupy Central" goes as planned, it will erode the foundation of the rule of law and ruin Hong Kong's reputation as a society under the rule of law. Once the rule of law is ruthlessly destroyed, Hong Kong will lose its luster, or even cease to exist.

Tai Yiu-ting is an associate professor of law with the University of Hong Kong but, instead of teaching the younger generation about the rule of law, he has assumed the role of planning an illegal mass campaign and setting an extremely bad example. By doing so he has no doubt shaken public confidence in Hong Kong's rule of law and given people a very good reason to question his morality and intention.

To defend public order and safeguard the rule of law, relevant authorities should drop anchor to the whirlwind by taking precautions and make sure those lawbreakers be brought to justice. Otherwise such unruly and unlawful behavior will only jeopardize the rule of law.

The author is a current affairs commentator.

(HK Edition 05/29/2013 page1)