Date
17 October 2017
Michael C. Davis (inset) says street protests don't harm the rule of law provided the protesters remain peaceful and follow court orders. Photos: AFP, http://www.law.hku.hk/
Michael C. Davis (inset) says street protests don't harm the rule of law provided the protesters remain peaceful and follow court orders. Photos: AFP, http://www.law.hku.hk/

Denial of genuine vote harms rule of law more: Legal expert

The government’s failure to fulfill its constitutional promise to conduct genuine universal suffrage hurts the rule of law more than the civil obedience of Occupy protesters, an expert in constitutional law says.

Michael C. Davis, a professor of law at the University of Hong Kong, said there is no damage to the rule of law if the occupiers do not fight against the clearance of streets based on court orders, Apple Daily reported Friday.

However, he reminded the protesters that it is very important to abide by the court’s ruling. They should do so or file their objections as soon as possible, said Davis.

He said the rule of law will not be undermined but in fact maintained if those who disobey the law choose to turn themselves in or restrain themselves from fighting when facing police action.

On the other hand, the government would pose a bigger threat to the rule of law, Davis said, if it tried to put itself above the law or deprive the public of their basic human rights.

He cited the example of Martin Luther King Jr., who led the civil rights movement in the United States in 1960s.

Davis said the social activist and his group did not fight when they were arrested and imprisoned for five days, while more damage was in fact done to the rule of law by the government’s policy of racial segregation.

Meanwhile, legislator Fernando Cheung Chiu-hung said at the occupation site in Mong Kok on Thursday night that the government might as well abolish the Good Citizen Award, since people who helped others by safeguarding justice ended up being arrested.

Cheung was referring to the arrest on Wednesday of two activists responsible for maintaining order at the protest site in Admiralty. Police took them in for allegedly engaging in an unlawful fight in a public place.

The two men had helped hold down assailants who threw rotten animal entrails at media tycoon and pro-democracy supporter Jimmy Lai.

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