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Published: 01:27, July 19, 2021 | Updated: 10:59, July 19, 2021
Tolerating words or acts that glorify terrorism marks society's failure to uphold morality
By Tu Haiming
Published:01:27, July 19, 2021 Updated:10:59, July 19, 2021 By Tu Haiming

The lone-wolf terrorist attack in Causeway Bay on the night of July 1, in which a police officer was severely injured and the assailant, Leung Kin-fai, stabbed himself to death, sent shock waves throughout the city.

However, as if domestic terrorism was not shocking enough, the University of Hong Kong Students’ Union Council held a meeting on July 7, complete with a minute’s silence for the cold-blooded attacker, and a motion to mourn his death and appreciate his “sacrifice to Hong Kong”. Equally disturbing is that some people, including young couples with small children, brought flowers to the crime scene to pay respect to the assailant in the days following the attack, while others referred to Leung as a “martyr” on social media.

Terrorism is abhorrent, but the most appalling thing is that the apologists publicly glorified terrorism. It is a colossal shame that Hong Kong, a modern, civilized metropolis under the rule of law, is now home to terrorists, with unabashed fans to boot. Their unconscionable behavior is an affront to not only the core values of Hong Kong society but also to basic human decency. If such words or acts glorifying terrorism are tolerated by Hong Kong society, they will mark a collective failure of Hong Kong society in securing its moral boundaries. They must not be repeated under any circumstance.

Paying respect to the knife-wielding attacker is no different from colluding with terrorists to plot against Hong Kong society. As the rule of law is the cornerstone of Hong Kong — 

indeed, of any society — 

violence and terrorism should never be tolerated

Those who mourned the attacker argued that this case is not terrorism, but merely an assault on a police officer. So how do we distinguish between the two?

Article 36 of the Offences against the Person Ordinance stipulates three conditions that constitute an assault on a police officer: (a) assaults any person with intent to commit an arrestable offense; or (b) assaults, resists, or willfully obstructs any police officer in the due execution of his duty or any person acting in aid of such officer; or (c) assaults any person with intent to resist or prevent the lawful apprehension or detainer of himself or of any other person for any offense.

If we look at the definition of a terrorist act in the United Nations (Anti-Terrorism Measures) Ordinance, it is action carried out with the intention of, or the threat is made with the intention of: (a) causing serious violence against a person; (b) causing serious damage to property; (c) endangering a person’s life, other than that of the person committing the action; (d) creating a serious risk to the health or safety of the public or a section of the public, etc. And the use of threat is made for the purpose of advancing a political, religious or ideological cause.

The above legal provisions apply to the lone-wolf attack, as we can see that the assailant did not know the victimized officer, who was not enforcing the law against the attacker when the attack occurred. Instead, it was Leung who stabbed the officer from behind. Furthermore, Leung’s suicide notes indicated that his assault was to promote a certain political aspiration. This corroborates the terrorism nature of the attack and proves that Leung was a terrorist.  

Article 27 of the Law of the People’s Republic of China on Safeguarding National Security in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region states that “a person who advocates terrorism or incites the commission of a terrorist activity shall be guilty of an offence. If the circumstances of the offence committed by a person are of a serious nature, the person shall be sentenced to fixed-term imprisonment of not less than five years but not more than ten years, and shall be imposed with a criminal fine or subject to confiscation of property; in other circumstances, a person shall be sentenced to fixed-term imprisonment of not more than five years, short-term detention or restriction, and shall be imposed with a criminal fine.”

Be it mourning the attacker with flowers at the crime scene or online, or publicly declaring him a “martyr” or a “righteous man”, or publicly appreciating his “sacrifice to Hong Kong”, it will inevitably inspire people to carry out copycat attacks, which fits the legal definition of “advocating terrorism or inciting the commission of a terrorist activity”.

Hong Kong is faced with severe challenges in counterterrorism. Since June 29, there have been several cases associated with terrorist activities in the city. The police have arrested at least 14 people this month, university staff included, for planning to firebomb tunnels, railways, courts and roadside garbage bins to cause fear by harming the public indiscriminately. With such rampant terrorist activities planned and possibly more yet to be uncovered, some members of the community still publicly endorse such heinous acts. Paying respect to the knife-wielding attacker is no different from colluding with terrorists to plot against Hong Kong society. As the rule of law is the cornerstone of Hong Kong — indeed, of any society — violence and terrorism should never be tolerated! We must not condone individuals and organizations that, either ceremonially or verbally, support or promote terrorism! 

Even in Western countries, where freedom of speech is overemphasized, any words or deeds that glorify and support terrorists will not be tolerated. Naturally there are opposition voices in every part of the world, but that grants no legitimacy to terrorist attacks. On the other hand, some quarters of Hong Kong society always pride themselves on blindly copying measures taken by the United States, the United Kingdom and other developed countries in the West. For instance, the HKUSU follows the lead and example of Washington and London faithfully, except zero tolerance for terrorism. It is apparent that these people have only one goal in mind: to excel in anti-China activities by messing up Hong Kong. And they will pursue their goal at all costs, including other people’s lives.

The author is a Hong Kong member of the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference and chairman of the Hong Kong New Era Development Thinktank.

The views do not necessarily reflect those of China Daily. 

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