On Monday, retired police superintendent Frankly Chu King-wai was convicted of assault against an innocent civilian during a 2014 Occupy event, and is now held in custody awaiting sentencing on Dec. 29.
While the victim Osman Cheng Chung-han and many others welcomed the ruling by the Eastern Magistrates’ Court and believed justice had been served, Chu’s supporters and relatives cried foul over the verdict. A family member of the former policeman yelled angrily that Chu should have “beaten Cheng (with his police baton) a couple more times.”
Chu’s case might have dragged on for a long time and been highly politicized, but we believe the legal grounds and rationale behind his conviction couldn’t have been more simple or clear: anyone who has beaten up somebody else for whatever reason is deemed to have committed wrongdoing.
The reason why we feel compelled to repeat this simple rationale here loud and clear, something that even kindergarten students are supposed to understand, is that our society has become so divided and polarized in recent years to such an extent that common sense and logic seem to have taken a backseat to social rifts, bigotry, hatred and even hysteria.
The political confrontations and rifts which have been plaguing Hong Kong over the past few years appear to have taken their toll on people’s conscience and rationality, and have clouded their moral judgment and undermined their ability to tell right from wrong.
Given that, we believe the people of Hong Kong should take Chu’s case as an opportunity to refresh their memory and understanding of this simple and basic logic again, which is, nothing, not even the noblest cause or most righteous belief, can justify the use of violence in a society that is governed by the rule of law like ours.
The rule of law is in fact like air; we often can’t even sense its existence when we have it, but we will definitely miss it once it is gone.
Amid this topic, if senior counsel Teresa Cheng Yeuk-wah is really going to be named the next secretary for justice, we believe she has something working in her favor.
She has rarely commented on political issues in the past, a fact that might turn out to be her strength, since there should be no place for political considerations when it comes to judging what is right and what is wrong under the law.
This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on Dec 19
Translation by Alan Lee
[Chinese version 中文版]
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