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Protesters' thinking proves to be illogical

By Tony Kwok | China Daily Global | Updated: 2019-09-05 09:00
Protesters train laser beams on police officers and buildings on Hennessy Road in Wan Chai on Aug 31. [Photo/China Daily]

"What do they really want?" That is the question many of us asked ourselves when we watched on television the destructive actions of young rioters on the streets of Hong Kong.

Perhaps we can draw some conclusions from the recent TVB program Straight Talk, in which a representative from the Student Union of the Chinese University of Hong Kong was asked about the current disturbances.

If she was indeed speaking on behalf of the protesters, it just shows their illogical thinking. For instance, she said the young people want to fight for freedom and rule of law.

She cited the example of Hong Kong resident Simon Cheng, who was detained on the Chinese mainland for 15 days. According to reports, Cheng, an employee of the British Consulate, was under administrative detention for 15 days in Shenzhen on suspicion of solicitation of prostitution.

The student union's representative said they want to protect the rule of law, but their violent campaign is putting it in jeopardy. She said the young rioters need to come out to voice their opinions, but when Hong Kong's Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor invited them for a dialogue, they spurned the offer and repeated their precondition-amnesty for all rioters-which is a blatant violation of the rule of law.

Although the Basic Law does not invest in the chief executive the powers to grant amnesty, as prosecution is the exclusive authority of the secretary for justice, the student representative insisted she was told by "legal professionals and professors "that this was legally feasible.

When she was shown videos of the violent protests, she said the rioters were forced to use violence in response to the police violence. Rather, it is just the opposite. The rioters started the violence, forcing the police to take appropriate measures.

But the highlight was her statement that they do not believe in the "one country, two systems" principle and consider Hong Kong's independence as an option. If the young people want to preserve their "threatened" freedom, they should listen to the advice of Henry Litton, former deputy president of the Court of Final Appeal, that they should support and make the "one country, two systems" principle work so that the central government would be inclined to extend the unique governing concept beyond its original deadline of 2047.

A clear message should be sent out that involvement in any rioting is a high-risk crime with lifelong negative implications, if convicted.

The entire community must actively express its support for the government in adopting a zero-tolerance policy toward violence.

First, the government should use all resources at its disposal, including the Emergency Regulation Ordinance. An anti-mask law must be brought in so that the rioters cannot hide behind masks while carrying out illegal activities.

Second, the main communication tools of the rioters-the Telegram messaging app and the LIHKG Forum portal-should be cut.

Third, there should be a declaration of partial curfews. When rioters gather at a particular district, the government can immediately declare a partial curfew for that district alone. That would ensure clear separation between rioters and bystanders.

Fourth, a special detention center for rioters and a special court for a speedy trial and detention of those arrested should be set up.

What we need is public support for firm government action to end the violence so that the massive economic loss we have suffered can be reversed quickly, and our reputation as one of the safest cities in the world can be restored.

The author is an honorary fellow and adjunct professor of the HKU Space continuing education provider, and council member of the Chinese Society of Hong Kong& Macau Studies. The views do not necessarily reflect those of China Daily.

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