It might have come a bit late. But Wednesday’s police action to arrest nine people over an unlawful assembly held more than two months ago sent out a clear message: The city’s rule of law can never be compromised.
The suspects were accused of committing various crimes, including “disorderly conduct in a public place” and “possession of an offensive weapon”, when they took part in an illegal assembly on Nov 6 last year to protest against an impending Basic Law interpretation by the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress.
For reasons of political expediency, some members of the opposition camp, particularly the young “radical localists”, have taken the law and the city’s much cherished rule of law lightly in recent years as political bickering has increased in Hong Kong. Indeed, it has been too common a scene that protesters recklessly violate traffic rules, charge police cordon lines and clash with police whenever they take to the streets.
But perhaps the biggest threat to Hong Kong’s rule of law comes from the likes of Benny Tai Yiu-ting, legal experts who act as if they are above the law. In his latest political manoeuvres, Tai urged “pan-democratic” members on the Election Committee to only cast votes of support for a Chief Executive candidate who would promise to derail the government lawsuit to disqualify four lawmakers alleged to have been involved in invalid oath-taking. The recklessness Tai demonstrated has led to suggestions he could be in breach of election laws and guilty of perverting the course of justice as well as at risk of contempt of court as the judiciary review is currently being processed.
Ironically, the “radical localists”, another name for Hong Kong separatists, complained on Wednesday that they were roughed up by rival protesters at airports in Hong Kong and Taiwan when they went there to attend a separatism forum organized by their counterparts in Taiwan earlier this month. Obviously, they have forgotten that they are the initiators of the political violence as well as the biggest saboteurs of the rule of law. They set a bad precedent when they repeatedly stormed the Legislative Council in the past couple of years and turned Mong Kok into a battlefield on the night of the Chinese New Year last February.
Members of the opposition camp have been pursuing their political agenda in the name of democratic rights. But they have forgotten that the rule of law is the foundation of all civil rights. It protects other rights including our right to life, without which everything would be meaningless.