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Thursday, April 20, 2017, 00:17

Rita Fan blasts ‘Occupy’ amnesty proposal

By Joseph Li
Rita Fan blasts ‘Occupy’ amnesty proposal
Rita Fan Hsu Lai-tai, member of the National People’s Congress Standing Committee, said the Chief Executive must exercise the power of granting amnesty very carefully with due respect to the rule of law. (Roy Liu / China Daily)

HONG KONG - Rita Fan Hsu Lai-tai, the sole Hong Kong member of the National People’s Congress Standing Committee, said it is inappropriate to grant amnesty to the protesters involved in the illegal “Occupy Central” movement in 2014, as well as the seven police officers convicted of beating a protester after he provoked them.

The Chief Executive has the authority to grant amnesty but he or she must exercise such power very carefully with due respect to the rule of law, Fan told China Daily.

NPCSC member criticizes Democratic Party head’s idea as inappropriate and contrary to rule of law

The former president of the Legislative Council made her point in response to Democratic Party Chairman Wu Chi-wai’s suggestion that the incoming CE Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor grant amnesty to the organizers and protesters of the 79-day illegal occupation.

In return, Wu believed the seven police officers, now serving prison terms, and retired police superintendent Franklin Chu King-wai, who allegedly beat a protester during the occupation, could be also granted amnesty for the purpose of what Wu called a “big reconciliation”.

Wu made the proposal during a newspaper interview, and it initially had the support of Civic Party leader Alvin Yeung Ngok-kiu. Yet Wu conceded later that the idea was his personal opinion and had not been discussed by the party.

Responding to pressure from within the party, Yeung admitted it was rash to back such a proposal. After an emergency meeting of the Democratic Party caucus, Wu back-tracked on his proposal and openly apologized to the public.

“The power to grant amnesty to (convicted people) should be exercised very solemnly, for example, when the offenders are too old, but amnesty should not be granted for political reasons,” Fan explained. “Rule of law must be respected in Hong Kong, or else Hong Kong will lose (one of) its institutional strengths over other cities.”

Fan ventured that Wu made the proposal out of goodwill to mend rifts in society but added the proposal was inappropriate and immature.

She added: “He has been very hasty (in reaching such proposal). It is very dangerous to put political behavior above the law. How can the government do that? Are we still living in the feudal age or imperial age?”

Fan further said there was no such thing as an “equalizer” by granting amnesty to people from both sides because there are divided views in society.

“Some think the seven officers have not done anything wrong, while some say they have committed an offense but the sentence is too harsh. There is also an opinion that since they are police officers, they should be handed a more serious penalty for breaking the law,” she commented.

Fan noted that the opposition camp has asked the incoming CE, as part  of the five demands they put to her after the election, to drop the judicial review case against four opposition lawmakers accused of behaving inappropriately when they made the Legislative Council oath in October last year.

“If the government dropped the judicial review case, the four would be let off after making a mockery of the oath and the legislature. Since the case has already gone to court, it is better to let the court decide on it. Otherwise, the government would be strongly criticized for pulling off the cases after commencement of the judicial procedure,” she said.

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