Former chief justice Andrew Li Kwok-nang said it’s high time for students to leave the Occupy protest sites, citing the negative impact on the rule of law in Hong Kong if the restraining orders issued by the courts are not respected, Ming Pao Daily reported Tuesday.
Li said he fully understands and appreciates the students’ quest for democracy, but stressed that whatever actions they take must not override the rule of law, which is a cornerstone of Hong Kong society.
The police said in a statement on Monday night they are prepared to help court bailiffs carry out court injunctions against the street barricades.
At least 500 police officers are expected to be dispatched Tuesday to clear the protest cites at CITIC Tower in Admiralty. Police sources said if all goes well in Admiralty, clearing operations will be carried out in Mong Kok on Wednesday.
When asked if the government is taking advantage of the legal system to resolve a political issue, Li said he is looking at principles of law, that the rule of law will be shaken if people don’t respect a restraining order issued by a court.
Li acknowledged that the pro-democracy protest is a political issue and it must be resolved through dialogues and negotiations. The court is only there to defend the law.
When asked if the decision of the three founders of the Occupy Movement to turn themselves in complies with the principle of rule of law, Li said anyone can draw their own conclusion, and it is up to the people concerned to decide what to do.
Tommy Cheung Sau-yin of the Hong Kong Federation of Students said student leaders would explain to their members the legal consequences of violating the court’s restraining orders, but it’s up to them to decide what they would do.
Cheung urged the government to handle the political crisis and not to pass the responsibility to the courts, adding that it is not up to the HKFS alone to decide whether protesters should leave the Occupy sites.
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