Date
22 October 2017
Police unions gather in support of the seven officers convicted of assaulting a pro-democracy activist. They have secured approval for their proposal to raise funds for the officers. Photo: HKEJ
Police unions gather in support of the seven officers convicted of assaulting a pro-democracy activist. They have secured approval for their proposal to raise funds for the officers. Photo: HKEJ

Why portraying the 7 convicted cops as martyrs is a bad idea

Almost immediately after the court convicted seven police officers of assaulting pro-democracy protester Ken Tsang and jailed them for two years, Police Commissioner Lo Wai-chung gave the green light to a proposal by the police unions to raise money for the families of the seven officers, who are likely to lose both their jobs and their pensions.

Several political parties also plan to raise money for the seven officers’ families, according to media reports.

I am indeed shocked by these fund-raising efforts and are totally opposed to them, as they are likely to send a very bad and misleading message to society that what the seven officers did was morally acceptable.

Besides, the police unions’ indignation at the conviction of the seven officers is completely groundless and ill-founded.

The officers violated the law and the police code of conduct, and for that they have to pay the price, period.

As the only law enforcement agency in our city that is allowed to use deadly force against civilians, the police should always be held to a high standard.

No provocation by protesters or work-related stress in the performance of their duty can justify any excessive use of force by frontline police officers, let alone torture against any arrested suspect.

As far as the seven officers convicted of assault are concerned, the loss of their jobs and pensions is part of the lawful punishment for the crime they committed apart from the jail terms they received.

As such, any act to portray the seven cops involved in the assault case as martyrs or any effort to raise money as a compensation for them and their families would amount to an endorsement of their criminal act and the use of torture against arrested protesters.

Worse still, such endorsement could provoke our frontline police officers and incite them to use excessive force against protesters in the days ahead, thereby exacerbating the already antagonistic relationship between the police and pro-democracy activists.

I believe any effort to raise money for the seven officers and their families should be stopped immediately so as to send a clear message to the public that our police force is an impartial law enforcement institution that doesn’t tolerate any excessive use of force or violation of civil rights, and that it won’t hesitate to bring its own men to justice if that happens.

In the meantime, I also strongly urge the police to start legal proceedings against retired superintendent Franklin Chu over his alleged assault on civilians during the Occupy Movement in Mong Kok in 2014, in order to restore public confidence in our law enforcement.

This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on Feb. 23

Translation by Alan Lee

[Chinese version 中文版]

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RT/CG

HKEJ contributor

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