Tony Kwok Man-wai, a former senior official at Hong Kong’s anti-graft agency, issued an open apology late Wednesday over a judiciary-related article that was published in some newspapers.
Following criticism over an opinion piece in which he questioned “problematic” rulings by some magistrates and suggested that the judges be called out, Kwok said he regrets his words.
Offering his apologies to magistrates and their families, Kwok said that his intention was not to harass or disturb the judges.
He said that he had taken out the “more aggressive choice of words” in his article, but the original draft was uploaded by mistake.
The apology came after Headline Daily and Tai Kung Pao published Kwok’s controversial article on Wednesday, painting the judges in a negative light.
In the article, Kwok — a former Deputy Commissioner and Head of Operations at the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) — suggested that netizens should establish a group to make public the names of judges who have handed out unreasonable rulings.
As an example, he referred to a court decision to allow Hong Kong Indigenous spokesperson Ray Wong Toi-yeung to go on bail after the activist was arrested by police on suspicion of riot charges.
Kwok wrote in his article that he was furious about the court decision, and questioned why an “extremely dangerous person” was allowed to walk away.
He demanded that the Department of Justice (DOJ) file a petition with the Court of Appeal for cancellation of the bail order.
In response to Kwok’s article, the DOJ issued a statement Wednesday evening saying that “accusing judicial officers of being biased or speculating about their political inclination in the absence of cogent evidence will not do any good to the maintenance of the HKSAR’s judicial independence.”
The department added that “when expressing views on court rulings, one must also respect the rule of law and judicial independence; otherwise, there might be impact on the rule of law even though one might have acted with the best intentions.”
The DOJ went on to explain that one should avoid making comments which might constitute or might be perceived to constitute the exertion of pressure on the courts or individual judges, so as to avoid the risk of prejudicing judicial independence.
Progressive Lawyers Group criticized Kwok for his comments, saying that the former anti-graft official has failed to be careful with his words given that he is a notable person.
Headline Daily said it only offers a platform for bloggers to upload their articles online. Content published on the platform doesn’t mean that the paper endorses the views.
Apple Daily noted that it was not the first time that Kwok has made controversial comments.
In August 2013, Kwok said in a letter addressed to Hong Kong people that he agreed with the chief executive’s point of view that some political parties were abusing the ICAC system to pull down enemies.
Those who filed complaints to the ICAC against former executive council members Barry Cheung Chun-yuen and Franklin Lam Fan-keung should apologize, Kwok wrote at that time.
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