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Friday, August 30, 2019, 01:32
Experts call for tougher laws to deal with unrest
By China Daily
Friday, August 30, 2019, 01:32 By China Daily

Radical protesters hurl gasoline bombs at police officers in Tsuen Wan, Hong Kong on Sunday. (PHOTO / XINHUA)

Legal heavyweights in Hong Kong have stepped up the growing chorus for tougher laws to end the three-month-old protests against the now-suspended extradition bill, while stressing that the city has adequate legal means to deal with the crisis.

They urged the government to rigorously enforce the law and spare no effort in bringing the perpetrators to justice.

The rule of law is a cornerstone of Hong Kong, and the government must not be seen to tolerate criminal behavior in the ongoing protests 

Priscilla Leung Mei-fun 

Barrister and legislator

Barrister and legislator Priscilla Leung Mei-fun said the rule of law is a cornerstone of Hong Kong, and the government must not be seen to tolerate criminal behavior in the ongoing protests.

She cited instances when radical protesters break away from designated routes during public assemblies and resort to illegal acts.

Under the SAR’s Public Order Ordinance, any person found guilty of joining an unlawful assembly shall be liable to imprisonment of up to five years.

Leung, who’s also an associate professor of the School of Law at City University of Hong Kong, said it’s also unreasonable and illegal for shopping malls and private housing estates to prevent the police from entering those premises as it would violate the Police Force Ordinance.

Article 50 (3) of the ordinance stipulates that if any police officer has reason to believe that any person to be arrested has entered into, or is in any place the person resides in or in charge of such a place, shall, on demand of that police officer, allow him free ingress thereto and afford all reasonable facilities for search therein.

Lawrence Ma Yan-kwok, a barrister and chairman of the Hong Kong Legal Exchange Foundation, reiterated that all political demands must be made, and all political activities must be conducted within the legal parameters permitted under the law.

He reckoned that the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region government can deploy the Emergency Regulations Ordinance and the curfew order under the Public Ordinance. “The current situation in Hong Kong is getting out of hand and it’s necessary to prevent the riots and chaos from continuing.”

According to the Emergency Regulations Ordinance, on any occasion which the chief executive in council may consider to be an occasion of emergency or public danger, he or she may invoke any regulation whatsoever that may be considered desirable in the public interest. Such regulations may provide for censorship, and the control and suppression of publications, writings, maps, plans, photographs, communications and means of communication.

Ma admitted that invoking the Emergency Regulations Ordinance and the curfew order would have a negative impact on Hong Kong’s development to some extent, but argued it’s a price that has to be paid in safeguarding the city’s stability and security.

“It’s just like prescribing an antibiotic to fight bacteria. If you don’t have it, the body will die. But, if you have it, there’s a side effect to bear,” he said.

Confident that Hong Kong has sound laws and a legal system to tackle the current unrest, Ma said the only question is that the city may not have adequate manpower, including the police force, to enforce any emergency regulation.

Hong Kong-based barrister Kacee Ting Wong said the violence only breeds more brutality. Thus, laws should be enacted in a heavy-handed manner to curb such lawlessness.

He believes there are people who are directing the disturbances behind the scenes. If people of Chinese nationality are found to be colluding with foreign forces, they could be charged with treason, secession and subversion, he said.

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