It is sad that Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam has refused to condemn legislator Junius Ho for his cruel and cold-blooded comments during a pro-Beijing rally at Tamar Park on Sunday.
Ho himself didn’t even bother to apologize to the public for saying that it is OK to kill all people advocating Hong Kong independence. In fact, he blamed the pan-democrats for misunderstanding the meaning of the word “kill” in Chinese, saying they should be disqualified as lawmakers for having such a poor understanding of the Chinese language.
Ho is apparently raising the emotional level of the debate on Hong Kong independence in order to put pressure on the University of Hong Kong to yield to his wish and fire law professor Benny Tai, whom he accuses of advocating independence from mainland China.
The opposition has denounced Ho’s outrageous behavior, and asked the police and the justice department to investigate Ho as calling for violence on people with a different political view is against the law.
But such government action is unlikely to happen. It would most probably take action if the ones calling for violence come from the ranks of the pro-democracy camp. After all, authorities have been running after opposition leaders and seeking to have them thrown behind bars.
So the double standard in dealing with the issue is quite obvious.
Lam, speaking to reporters before the weekly Executive Council meeting on Tuesday, finally ended her silence on the issue, saying recent “unacceptably cruel, insulting and intimidating comments” have crossed the bottom line of civilized society.
She said it’s the job of the justice secretary and law enforcement agencies to judge if such remarks are illegal. Regardless of one’s political stance, immoral words aren’t what people want to hear.
Still, Lam attributed the “intimidating comments” to the raging debate on Hong Kong independence.
She said such discussions should not continue and called on all sides to stop pushing Hong Kong to “the brink of public disorder”, adding that such conflicts are threatening national sovereignty and the authority of the Basic Law.
Lam’s response to Ho’s cruel remarks was fully in line with Beijing’s official stance on Hong Kong independence. While she is apparently denouncing Ho’s use of threatening remarks, Lam is actually directing her broadsides against those advocating Hong Kong independence .
She condemned the appearance of independence banners and posters on university campuses. In short, she wants to pursue the fight against those advocating independence while refusing to act on Ho’s emotional tirades.
The entire government is tolerating Ho’s hate speech because such comments are in line with Beijing’s stance against Hong Kong independence.
Unsurprisingly, Ho has continued with his highly incendiary rhetoric against the pro-democracy camp.
After 22 pan-democratic lawmakers issued a joint petition for police to take action on Ho’s “kill without mercy” remarks, Ho even dared independence advocates to “call the police to arrest me if you can”.
On his social media page, the pro-Beijing lawmaker said the word “kill” was used as an adjective and was not meant as a suggestion for people to take action against independence advocates. By “kill”, he said, he meant to stop the independence movement from influencing the minds of youngsters.
While apparently at ease with spouting vile remarks against his political opponents, Ho, it will be recalled, slammed students from Lingnan University for using foul language in a sarcastic tune they sang during a public event two years ago.
It was the same Ho who, as a member of the school board, said the students’ behavior violated the Public Order Ordinance because the lyrics of the song were threatening public safety.
But this time around, Ho, in pushing for the ouster of a university professor, thought it proper to employ the vilest language against independence advocates. As far as he is concerned, his remarks did not violate the Public Order Ordinance.
So for him, there is a crime if uncouth language is spoken by the opposition, but none at all if threatening words are uttered by Beijing loyalists.
The Hong Kong police initially refused to handle the case after a citizen made a report, saying Ho’s behavior was just a gimmick.
But media reported on Tuesday that the police had formally opened the case for further investigation.
Apparently, the joint petition by the pan-democrat lawmakers, along with growing public pressure, did change the mind of the Lam administration.
Meanwhile, Hong Kong’s last governor, Chris Patten, warned on Tuesday that local students advocating independence could become “more extreme” if leaders fail to engage in a dialogue with them.
Patten said the controversy should be left to the heads of universities to handle, and everybody has to “cool down”.
Patten also indirectly criticized Ho for his hate speech, saying there’s a limit as to how far a person can exercise freedom of speech.
Indeed, Ho owes the public an apology. That’s the least he could do to quell the fire he has started.
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