Tam Kam-kau argues that HK’s rule of law, social stability and economic prosperity is now facing a great threat
It is rather unfortunate that Hong Kong’s reputation as a society governed by the rule of law has been greatly damaged by rioters who have indulged in wanton violent acts over the past few days — under the guise of opposing the proposed extradition law amendments. They have not only endangered the safety of frontline police officers and the public but also caused serious disruptions to society, thanks to incitement from the opposition camp.
It is to the credit of the Hong Kong Police Force, “Asia’s Finest”, that the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region government has managed to maintain effective governance amid rising radicalism. The professionalism they demonstrated in enforcing the law, containing violence and ensuring public safety has won applause from Hong Kong residents.
As the event unfurls, we can clearly see a fight for governance has been launched by the opposition camp under the guise of an anti-extradition campaign. The SAR government can in no way succumb to “mobocracy”, or its credibility and the city’s rule of law will be damaged. More importantly, the opposition camp and their foreign allies would only be more vocal and aggressive in opposing any policy they dislike in the future should the HKSAR government succumb to their pressure.
It should be noted that what we are witnessing is really a fight over Hong Kong’s governance rather than a purely legal dispute. All sectors of Hong Kong society should stand firm behind the SAR government as well as the police force in suppressing violence in accordance with the law and in maintaining the rule of law.
In their desperate attempt to derail the extradition law amendments, the opposition camp has joined up with the rioters. Egged on by members of the opposition camp, the rioters repeatedly stormed the Legislative Council Complex, provoked the police, and choked the city’s transport arteries. The fact that the rioters were well-equipped with a variety of weapons such as sharpened steel bars, helmets and stones could only tell that they had prepared to commit violence toward law enforcers.
Members of the opposition claimed they were defending Hong Kong’s freedom and civil rights in their relentless fight against the proposed rendition law amendment bill. But instead of condemning the rioters whose violent acts posed a great threat to the safety of frontline police officers and the public, opposition politicians have been vocal in reproaching the police for dutifully enforcing the law and ensuring public safety while risking their own safety.
Frontline police officers have been under great pressure and many have suffered serious injuries in clashes with rioters, as shown by numerous television videos. Braving huge mental and physical stress, police officers demonstrated their unquestionable professionalism; they successfully dispelled the mob and gained control of the situation with minimal force on several occasions.
As the event unfolds, we can clearly see a fight for governance has been launched by the opposition camp under the guise of an anti-extradition campaign. The SAR government can in no way succumb to “mobocracy”, or its credibility and the city’s rule of law will be damaged. More importantly, the opposition camp and their foreign allies would only be more vocal and aggressive in opposing any policy they dislike in the future should the HKSAR government succumb to their pressure. Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor has rightly pointed out that Hong Kong will suffer greatly if radicalism and violence prevail.
READ MORE: Lam warns public of danger of radicalism
Some people have likened the anti-extradition campaign to the 2014 illegal “Occupy Central” campaign. Indeed, the former is more complicated than the latter as it was launched against the background of Sino-US trade disputes. The extradition law amendments have unfortunately been used by foreign forces as a bargaining chip in dealing with Beijing. Foreign intervention this time around is unprecedented in both its magnitude and depth. Worse, some foreign forces are trying to turn Hong Kong into a bridgehead for advancing their strategy to contain China.
It is worth noting that “Occupy Central” failed four years ago because the public will was against it. Now that Hong Kong’s rule of law, social stability and economic prosperity are again under serious threat, Hong Kong people must speak out against violence and “mobocracy”.
The author is a member of the Standing Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference National Committee. This is an excerpt translation of his Chinese article published in Wen Wei Po on Friday.
HONG KONG NEWS