Some proposals to Hong Kong government

June 03, 2020 08:59
Photo: Reuters

With all the protests and violence that have been going on for nearly a year, it appears that they have calmed down during the pandemic, but are now reviving with the enactment of the national security bill. Here may I highlight some of the underlying problems that the Hong Kong government will have to address and resolve.

First of all, there are reasons to be concerned about the standards of judges in Hong Kong, which seem to be sliding? Let’s look at two recent cases here.

A youngster was fined $200 for throwing glass bottles and a rubbish bin cover onto the Disciplined Services Quarters. According to the magistrate, the youngster was a first-time offender, and the incident had not brought any harm to anyone. Can I say a litterbug with a fixed fine of $1,500 has committed a more serious crime than the youngster here fined with $200?

Another heated controversial case relates to a 15-year-old boy, who had hurled gas bombs, but was only sentenced with an 18-month probation order. The magistrate described the boy as an “outstanding child” because of his dream to become a district councillor. Look! The boy had committed a very serious crime which could bring significant casualties and be sentenced with life imprisonment. Has all the violence not been extensive enough, and a big massacre should descend before anyone would wake up?

I must here point out two main purposes of a court sentence: (1) that there is sufficient deterrent effect; (2) prevention of an offender to recommit a crime.

Has the penalty imposed by the Hong Kong courts been able to achieve these two purposes?

In UK, there is the Sentencing Council, which is responsible for monitoring the use of sentencing guidelines, and reviewing decisions relating to sentencing. Without such a council in Hong Kong, shouldn’t an independent supervisory committee be established to look into cases which are controversial, and put forward to the Chief Justice a report of findings and rectifications for his further action?

It is really worrying that not only the standards of judges are slipping, so are our educators.

In a recent Chinese History DSE question asking students if “more good than harm was done by Japan on China between 1900-1945”, 38% of the students, who had sat in this exam, gave a positive answer, i.e. more good was done by Japan on China. Why was the question not asked in a way which is the other way round, i.e. “more harm than good was done”? In order to strike a balance, why were only 2 positive excerpts provided without giving students some negative ones?

Although this question has been invalidated, is there a standard answer, in which case the rubric for assessment should be released showing exactly how answers to this question would be graded? Could the Examinations Authority shed some light on my queries above?

Meanwhile, the conduct of the Hong Kong Police Force has been a subject of controversy during the protests.

It is my suggestion that in order to increase the transparency of police officers, all on-duty law enforcement officers must be equipped with a body camera in recording mode during active duty.

This will not only reduce the on-going controversies of police behaving badly, but also act as a deterrent against police misconduct.

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HKEJ contributor