No purpose justifies violence

Updated: 2017-03-17 08:05

(HK Edition)

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Three rioters, two men and a woman, accused of rioting during the Mong Kok riot on the night of the Chinese New Year Day in February last year were found guilty as charged by the District Court on Thursday. The guilty verdict is further proof the rule of law is still intact and effective in Hong Kong. This is despite repeated attempts by opposition political groups to justify such illegal behavior with specious arguments.

The Mong Kok riot was a premeditated and organized act of violence. It attempted to challenge the rule of law and intimidate Hong Kong society as well as the SAR government during the most important public holidays of the year.

The masterminds turned out to be a few "localist" organizations that emerged amid the illegal "Occupy Central" movement. They were behind many illegal acts. These included violent clashes with the police during "Occupy" and harassing innocent consumers, particularly tourists from the mainland, in busy shopping areas.

Many of the Mong Kok rioters brought blunt objects to attack police officers with while some others vandalized the streets as they raised hell, allegedly to protest against market inspectors stopping illegal hawkers from selling snacks without a business license. Quite a few opposition lawmakers were at the scene to cheer the rioters on. They even tried to berate police officers simply for performing their duty. The whole incident was obviously intended as a terrible surprise and it certainly was to millions of Hong Kong residents and tourists.

Many people were convinced the violent episode was merely a brief showcase of what those "localists" are capable of. They have demanded a proper response from the Department of Justice so the rioters are punished. Thursday's verdict was the first rioting conviction related to the Mong Kok riot. We have good reason to believe more similar charges will be filed against suspects involved in such illegal acts in future.

The steady increase of politically motivated offenses highlights a dangerous trend here that all departments concerned, as well as the public, should be on high alert against. This abnormal situation indicates certain opposition political groups are trying to brainwash people - particularly the younger generation - with the notion that it is fine to break the law in the name of "political rights".

Former secretary for security Ambrose Lee Siu-kwong pointed out recently that committing acts of violence with political excuses is self-defeating - as no civil rights can survive in a lawless society. Like he said, no civilized society will tolerate violent challenges to the rule of law.

(HK Edition 03/17/2017 page1)