22 February 2019
Pressing charges against the seven cops still won't heal the wounds of our society in the wake of the Occupy Movement. Photo: HKEJ
Pressing charges against the seven cops still won't heal the wounds of our society in the wake of the Occupy Movement. Photo: HKEJ

Why pressing charges against the 7 cops won’t heal the wounds

After a year’s delay, the Department of Justice finally pressed charges against the seven police officers who were caught on camera beating up Ken Tsang, a pro-democracy activist, in a dark street corner in Central during the Occupy Movement last October.

To some, it seems justice has been served and the controversy can eventually come to an end. But will the belated charges alone really be able to heal the wounds of our society in the wake of the Occupy Movement? Can the conviction of the seven cops really restore harmony in our society and turn back the clock as if the Occupy Movement had never happened? It would absolutely be naïve to think so.

In fact, the excessive use of force by the police during the Occupy Movement, the indiscriminate arrests of pro-democracy protesters, and the suppression of civil rights by the authorities through our judicial system have already taken their irreversible toll on public confidence in our government.

Just talk to any teenager and they would probably tell you that they no longer believe in society, in the future, in the people in power and in politicians, that the only one they believe in are themselves, and they are determined to take their future back into their own hands instead of relying on the hypocritical politicians to fight for democracy for them.

On the other hand, the fact that the Department of Justice was pressing charges against Ken Tsang himself at the same time for “inflicting harm on police officers” and “resisting arrest” only suggests that the DOJ might have noticed that the charges they brought against the seven cops could have ruffled the police’s feathers and therefore it had to put Tsang on trial as well on bogus charges in an apparent effort to appease them.

I don’t see any reason why pressing charges against Tsang would make the police feel better in any way, because even if Tsang was convicted of all the 11 counts of charges brought against him, it still wouldn’t provide any justification for torturing him, because torture is torture, it is against the law under all circumstances, no matter whether the victim is a convicted criminal or not.

As the seven cops are standing trial for assault charges, I believe it is only a matter of time before the DOJ would also press charges against retired police superintendent Chu King-wai, former commander of the Sha Tin police division, who was also caught on camera beating up some passers-by during a clearing operation in Mong Kok in November last year.

Because in the age of the internet and multimedia, as long as there is an online video footage proving that a crime did happen, there is no way the authorities can turn a blind eye to that and continue to harbor the suspect.

Now that the seven cops, and even former Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen are facing criminal charges, does that mean our social injustice has been redressed and the grievances and indignation of our people fully addressed?

My answer is definitely “no”, because the seven cops, officer Chu and Donald Tsang were only the tip of the iceberg, and even if they are all convicted, it still won’t change the fact that our rule of law has continued to deteriorate and the general public is losing trust in the authorities under Leung Chun-ying’s regime.

The only way to rebuild people’s confidence in the administration and the police is for the government to stop pressing bogus charges against pro-democracy activists, to conduct a wide-ranging and across-the-board independent inquiry into the graft and corruption allegations against Leung Chun-ying and his subordinates, and follow all the facts wherever they lead, and restart the democratization process immediately.

This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on Oct. 20.

Translation by Alan Lee

[Chinese version 中文版]

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HKEJ columnist

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