Date
16 August 2018
A HKNP banner is on display as police stand guard at the start of a rally in Hong Kong in 2016. The government’s proposed ban on the pro-independence party has become a topic of serious debate in the city in recent days. Photo: AFP
A HKNP banner is on display as police stand guard at the start of a rally in Hong Kong in 2016. The government’s proposed ban on the pro-independence party has become a topic of serious debate in the city in recent days. Photo: AFP

From the triads to the HKNP

The Civil Human Rights Front staged a protest recently against the government’s plan to invoke the Societies Ordinance to prohibit the operation of the pro-independence Hong Kong National Party (HKNP).

Avery Ng Man-yuen, chairman of the League of Social Democrats, lambasted authorities for zeroing in on the HKNP while not going after criminal gangs, or triads, in the same intimidating way.

Ng also said the government’s proposed ban on the HKNP is unjustifiable, pointing out that the party had not resorted to any violence, and all that its members did was to hand out flyers.

I think Ng was being pretty creative in comparing the government’s treatment of HKNP to that of the triads.

However, what he probably didn’t tell you is that the authorities didn’t single out the HKNP, nor did they ever go easy on the triads over the years.

The Societies Ordinance applies all societies including criminal organizations such as the triads. Law enforcement agents would handle any illegal society according to the law.

Under the existing law, being or claiming to be a triad member itself constitutes an offence, even if that person hasn’t committed any actual crime or violence.

Law enforcement officials, as a matter of fact, have been pretty tough in busting triad members over the years.

At the end of last year, the police raided an apartment building in Sham Shui Po and busted a triad gang initiation ritual, arresting at the scene four people including several high-ranking gangsters.

If Ng’s argument held true, then does that mean the police crackdown on these triad members was both wrong and unjustified?

It is because according to his logic, these gangsters didn’t resort to any violence either, and all they did on that night was only perform traditional triad rituals.

Members of the opposition have criticized the law enforcement for wrongfully considering the recommendation to ban the HKNP on the grounds that it hasn’t resorted to any violence at all.

Based on the same notion, the police perhaps should also go easy on the triads and turn a blind eye to their activities too as long as they haven’t committed any crime or violence.

But what would Hong Kong look like if such a scenario took place? Would you like to live in a city where gangsters are all over the place?

In my view, it is actually the opposition itself, not the government, which is being biased here. It is because if it insists that the HKNP shouldn’t be outlawed, then why didn’t it call for leniency to the triads as well?

This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on July 27

Translation by Alan Lee with additional reporting

[Chinese version 中文版]

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JC/RC

Columnist of Hong Kong Economic Journal

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