No one is ever above the law

Updated: 2017-03-28 06:56

(HK Edition)

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Hong Kong police on Monday notified nine individuals who played leading roles in the illegal "Occupy Central" movement some two and a half years ago that they will be charged with offenses in connection with public nuisance. The nine, including the three men who jointly initiated the 79-day chaos in the fall of 2014 - Benny Tai Yiu-ting, Chan Kin-man and Chu Yiu-ming - as well as two current Legislative Council members, were told to report to the police for "arrest by appointment". Many members of the public hailed the police move, though overdue, as a much-needed assurance that no one is above the law in Hong Kong.

"Occupy" is widely regarded as the most blatant challenge to Hong Kong's rule of law in recent history, not only because numerous cases of disturbing peace and public order, vandalism, assaulting police officers and obstruction of justice in contempt of the court were committed in its name, but also for the very intent with which it was conceived, planned and executed. As Tai, Chan and Chu declared in their "Occupy Central Manifesto", the movement was expressly meant to show the world, but particularly the central government, that they will do anything they can to get what they want. In this case what they want is governing power over Hong Kong, with which they can turn the city into an independent political entity.

It should also be noted that some "Occupy" supporters cried foul upon hearing that charges had been filed against those nine leading "occupiers"; not that it was any surprise but because they even accused the government of "further dividing Hong Kong society". According to their logic, we should let them do whatever they want or forget about building a harmonious society. They seem to have forgotten how the rule of law works, especially considering that Tai is an associate professor in constitutional law. It was his adulteration of the concept of "civil disobedience" that drew many innocent youths into the illegal movement. How can they blame anyone but Tai for taking the wrong path?

Those trying to justify such acts need to understand that everything one does has consequences and they must take full responsibility for what they do. Instead of looking for excuses to defend their illegal behavior they should remind themselves to never break the law again. Let no one assume they can do anything they please for their "noble cause", because others can do the same and there will never be peace for Hong Kong or any other society for that matter. Effective rule of law depends on absolute equality before the law. That means no one can be above the law - not for any excuse.

(HK Edition 03/28/2017 page8)