One must pay for contempt of court

Updated: 2017-03-31 09:48

(HK Edition)

  Print Mail Large Medium  Small 分享按钮 0

A prominent participant in the illegal "Occupy Central" movement was found guilty of criminal contempt of court on Thursday. He was also denied bail because he gave the presiding judge no reasonable grounds to grant it. Alvin Cheng Kam-mun, a leading member of the radical separatist group Civic Passion, was one of those who refused to leave an "Occupy" site in Mong Kok in fall 2014 after a court injunction ordered all "occupiers" to vacate the site immediately. Cheng was among more than 100 people arrested at that time, and one of 17 facing charges of criminal contempt. The ruling is yet another warning to all those who intend to defy court orders, with or without an excuse. Courts are a crucial part of the rule of law which must be respected.

Court rulings must be followed through once they are delivered because that is how procedural justice is maintained. Objection to court rulings must be presented in the form of appeals to higher courts. In Cheng's case he chose to defy the court order instead of filing an appeal. By pleading guilty to the charge he showed the court he clearly knew what criminal contempt entails but did it anyway, leading the court to believe he has shown no remorse and therefore deserves no bail. His behavior in court - being late for a previous hearing and playing on his phone during the trial - is proof he still does not respect the rule of law as we know it, which was tested to the limit by "Occupy" and those behind it as well as those who took part in it. It is fair to say Hong Kong would never be the same had the judiciary not acted as it does right now to save itself from becoming irrelevant and Hong Kong society from losing the protection of justice.

For the same reason members of the public have every right and reason to expect similar results from other trials of the nine individuals indicted on Monday, including Benny Tai Yiu-ting, Chan Kin-man and Chu Yiu-ming. They initiated "Occupy" in 2013 and went out of their way to convince young people and even schoolchildren they could join an illegal movement like "Occupy" in the name of "civil disobedience" as long as they accepted the consequences that came with such unlawful behavior. They promised in public repeatedly they would do so, too. Today, however, they are screaming "political persecution" instead of honoring their own promises. Evidently they had no faith in "civil disobedience" to begin with. Such cynicism toward the rule of law must not be tolerated under any circumstances.

(HK Edition 03/31/2017 page1)