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Tuesday, August 13, 2019, 09:23
Stopping violence should be Hong Kong's top priority
By Lou Man-ying
Tuesday, August 13, 2019, 09:23 By Lou Man-ying

Some members of the community have repeatedly demanded an independent inquiry into the events during the past two months of protests against the now-suspended extradition bill. But, is there any jurisprudence basis for such a suggestion? Can they provide convincing arguments that the turmoil in Hong Kong will end if such an inquiry is launched? 

Unfortunately, there’s no cogent logic to prove the efficacy of such a probe at the moment. A critical analysis of the issue will show that the advocates are divorced from reality. Such an inquiry would inevitably end up focusing on the government’s blunders in implementing its policies or the alleged excessive use of force by the police, rather than on the real reasons behind the radicals’ violent campaign - a scenario that would be counterproductive. 

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Some radicals have openly called for Hong Kong independence in the past two months, chanting separatist slogans like “Liberate Hong Kong” and “Revolution of our times”

Some radicals have openly called for Hong Kong independence in the past two months, chanting separatist slogans like “Liberate Hong Kong” and “Revolution of our times”. They have also committed violent and illegal acts, including besieging the Liaison Office of the Central People’s Government in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, desecrating the national flag and defacing the emblems of the nation and the SAR. It’s evident to all that the protests have evolved into a “color revolution” with the goal of seizing the governing power of the SAR by toppling the city’s administration. It’s, therefore, pointless to initiate an independent inquiry under the current situation - it would lead to a myriad of problems, such as dampening the police force’s morale, impeding law enforcement and triggering a new round of controversy over the members of the commission. 

In August 2011, massive social unrest broke out in the United Kingdom after African-descent 29-year-old Mark Duggan was shot dead by a police officer. The public protests quickly plagued 11 cities with more than 200 people injured and some 4,000 protesters arrested. The British government resolutely characterized the turmoil as “riots” and charged nearly half of those detained. Although then prime minister David Cameron came under intense pressure from both parliament and the public, he firmly rejected calls to set up an independent commission of inquiry and explicitly denounced the turbulence as riots. His strategy resembled the Hong Kong government’s stance on the current anti-extradition crisis. 

The inquest into Duggan’s death did not start until the riot was entirely put down. The commission, whose members including government officials, police officers and representatives of the legal sector, was aimed at encouraging dialogue and identifying the culprits. Thanks to the spirit of uniting the majority against a small majority of radicals, it successfully turned the conflict into a social reform that helped mend social divides. What a good lesson for Hong Kong people to learn from! 

Among the various demands of Hong Kong people, calls for stability, peace and prompt restoration of social order are the top priorities, as Zhang Xiaoming, director of the Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office of the State Council, noted at a symposium in Shenzhen last week. Indeed, it was high time to end the violence for good! This is the voice of the silent majority. 

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The HKSAR government has already responded to the opposition camp’s “five demands”. However, the impasse cannot be unlocked with the government making concessions. The government will not make any concession on matters of principle. To steer Hong Kong out of the unrest, Hong Kong people should adhere to the principle of “one country, two systems” and say “no” to violence and lawbreaking behavior. 

As the bottom line of “one country, two systems” is being challenged, with Hong Kong facing the most serious crisis since its return to the motherland, the calls for an independent inquiry are unrealistic. The key to stability lies in the majority of people throwing their full weight behind Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor and the police in enforcing the rule of law to restore law and order. Our top priority is to prevent the city from plunging into an abyss by halting the violence and mending the rifts in society. 

The author is a current affairs commentator. This is an excerpt translation of her Chinese article published earlier in Hong Kong Commercial Daily.

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