Orderly polling shows loathing of violence

Updated: 2019-11-27 07:25

(HK Edition)

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While the results of Sunday's District Council elections are still being analyzed, one message was crystal clear - the 2.9 million registered voters who cast their ballots in a peaceful and orderly fashion at 610 polling stations across the city told us they are sick of violence; and opinions, even differing ones, could be expressed in a lawful manner.

Despite all the worries about disruption or even violence during the polling process, voters arrived at polling stations in droves early on Sunday morning even before polling started and waited patiently in line for hours in the sun. Evidently, they wanted to show the violent protesters plaguing Hong Kong streets in the past six months their determination to exercise their civic rights in spite of the threat of violence and to demonstrate that opinions could and should be expressed in a peaceful and orderly way.

Hong Kong residents have always enjoyed freedom of speech, which is enshrined in the Basic Law. There is no lack of proper platforms and channels in the special administrative region for residents to express their views on anything freely. Elections are a good way to tell the government what people feel about the quality of governance. And public opinion on government policies could also be expressed at different levels of councils by people's representatives. Then there is press freedom, under which all kinds of media are free to convey a vast variety of opinions in society. There is absolutely no excuse for anybody to resort to violence - and certainly not for paralyzing the city - to get their messages across.

The government would certainly not accede to the unreasonable and unlawful demands of the radical protesters, which include an independent inquiry into alleged "police violence", not even when they tried to hold the city hostage by terrorizing the streets, inflicting widespread damage to both public and private property, and crippling public transportation networks.

Yet, while the accusations against police are rightly handled by the Independent Police Complaints Council, there is the genuine need to look further and find out what really caused six months of social turmoil, including the deep-rooted issues that have plagued the city for so long, in order to prevent this from recurring. Deeming it the right time to launch such an exercise, the SAR government, as revealed by Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor on Tuesday, is in the process of setting up an Independent Review Committee, consisting of experts and scholars, to look into the underlying causes of the protests, with reference to how the British authorities responded to the London riots in 2011.

Now that the IRC and the IPCC report are in the pipeline, all violence should stop to let the truth prevail. Meanwhile, all sectors of society should now refocus their efforts on rejuvenating a traumatized society and faltering economy. Any further delay in such efforts will do further harm to the city.

Orderly polling shows loathing of violence

(HK Edition 11/27/2019 page7)